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If you're looking for further verification of our "wow, the Brits are kind of whiny about air travel aren't they" thesis from last week, you need search no further than the Twitter feed of the Economist's New York bureau chief Matthew Bishop. The largest city in the United States was functionally shut down to air travel for a day and what's the biggest new media travel story about JFK? How much Bishop complained when he got stuck on the tarmac for seven hours.
And while that would drive us insane too, you'd think that there would have been at least one prominent New Yorker who complained more than a random British guy, or someone from that Cathay Pacific flight that was stuck on the tarmac for ten hours. Apparently not.
More evidence: in order to placate the (barely) metaphorical mobs of pitchfork wielding Londoners, the British government is coming down hard on Heathrow and other airports. UK Transport Secretary Philip Hammond is threatening massive fines forand we're going to quote the Daily Mail directly, the better to give you a sense of the British mood"inflicting misery on passengers."
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Good morning and welcome to day...445?...no, day 4 of Snowpocalypse 2010. As half of Jaunted's own staff is stuck in various airports around the world, all trying to make it back to the East Coast after exotic holiday trips, we're extremely tuned in to the situation at our destinations, especially New York City.
As of just this morning, public transportation to and from the NYC-area airports is slowly, slowly cranking back to normal, and the dear AirTrain has resumed its shuttling around JFK Airport after days spent closed due to risk of derailment (scary!). And while we're trying to claw our way back to the city, we already have heard horror stories from those there attempting to escape, like this one from a friend who nearly sold her soul to make one of the only Chicago-bound JFK flights yesterday:
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There's all of this focus on New York City and travelers stuck in their airports, which is understandable considering that that's where the majority of the snow was dumped, but let's not forget the scores of tired and cranky folks trapped at other airports around the country, trying to make it to and not away from the NYC snowdrifts.
In the past here at Jaunted, we've used our knowledge gained from previous frustrating layover escapades to develop a small series on Five Things to Do on Your Layover at...whichever major airport you're at. There's only four nowfor Chicago-O'Hare, Detroit-Metro, Minneapolis-Saint Paul and Atlanta-Hartsfield, but it's more apparent than ever that such guides are needed.
But for now, we hope that our tips are of use to you or your family, as we enter travel days more frustrating than those even around Thanksgiving:
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Rejoice! All you stranded travelers and those waiting at home for them will surely be thrilled to hear that, after tentatively re-welcoming flights last night, New York City's three major airports are back open and in business. These include New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia and Newark-Liberty, each a major hub and devastating to the rest of the system when closed.
Looking at FlightStats.comwhich is where we originally saw our own flight cancelled before the airline had sent a notification emailwe see that American Airlines is the only one really outright canceling flights still. Delta too is having a rough starts, with many flight delays approaching two hours, but heyat least they are flying.
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Are you stranded at an airport? Calm down. Take a deep breath. And then watch the video above to be reminded why it is that your flight is unable to get to or from the East Cost. The above timelapse shot was taken on the north shore of New Jersey, from the first snowflakes all the way to the calm that comes after the sky has dumped itself upon the ground.
This videosimple as it isis quickly going viral, as the world is enthralled with the idea of Mother Nature throwing all her weight into giving New York City a good and true blizzard. Enjoy, and remember you'll eventually get where you want to go, just that it'll take a little longer than normal on account of the force of nature sampled above.
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We're not alone in our weather delay misery this week! Yay? Now that Northern Europe and the UK are mostly shoveled clear for air travel to resume somewhat normal levels, the US East Coast falls to Mother Nature, as does Russia. According to RIA Novosti it's freezing rain causing the problem, however, and although the airports aren't completely shut-down, they're operating slower than a Zaporozhets and causing dangerous levels of frustration:
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If you've got any hope of traveling into or out of the Northeast today or tomorrow...or really on into the New Year, jot down your airline/bus/train information and stay closely tuned to their updates through these channels:
· American Airlines: a website and Twitter
· Continental: a website and Twitter
· Delta: a website and Twitter
· JetBlue: a website and Twitter
· Southwest: a website and Twitter.
· United: a website and Twitter
· US Airways: a website and Twitter
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You're stuck. You're cranky. You're uncomfortable. If you're lucky, your home until you can fly out will be a hotel or the living room of a friend, but many will find themselves sleeping at the airport and that's just no fun. Here, however, are Five items you can buy at the airport to survive long flight delays:
· Beach Towel: Not only does it soften a sleep on the floor or hard chairs, but it's also effective as a dirt barrier between you and whatever is on that floor/soaked into the waiting area chairs. Spread it out on a blanket to curl up on, roll it up to use as a pillow or cover yourself with it like a blanket for privacy or warmth. There are many uses for something so simple, and luckily it should be cheap enough to throw out once your flight does board and depart.
· A carabiner clip: If you're planning on getting some good sleep, it's always an excellent idea to secure your belongings just in case. Buying a carabiner clip keychain or something similar may keep your purse strap/laptop bag handle/shoes/airport purchases bag next to you all night, instead of having it easily picked up and wandered off with while you're snoozing.
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We thought Midwest (not to mention UK) air traffic two weeks ago was a total mess, and that things couldn't get much worse. Turns out we called that putt a little too early. If you're reading this right now, you're not suffering power outages like the 60,000 people in Massachusetts or the 16,000 people in New York or the 2,300 people in Rhode Island or the 40,000 people in Canada. So congratulations on that we suppose.
You're also not reading this from a New York airport, since those have been shut since last night. JFK, EWR, and LGA aren't projected to reopen until 4pm EST today, at which point they will have been offline for about about 24 hours each. That shouldn't be a problem, since it's not like a lot of people live in that region or like this was a weekend where lots of people were vacationing.
Ditto for the wave of airport cancellations that hit all three DC airports, plus Boston, Charlotte, Philadelphia, etc etc. Amtrak between New York and Boston is also shut down, so if you were desperately hoping to get to Logan and take the train into New Yorkwhich you probably couldn't do anywaythat won't work either.
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So the Northeast is buried under a Snowmageddon and you're stuck somewhere far, far away from where you'd like to be thanks to the temper of Mother Nature and snowed-in airports. In case it makes you feel any better, we're stuck in the same situation, but thanks to a few airlines that embrace social media, we've been re-ticketed with new, hopefully snow delay-free flights since the first flurries fell. The trick is to bypass calling airlines to rebook by contacting them via Twitter.
Note that this is only works with airlines who actively participate in Twitter, and the main ones are @JetBlue, @AmericanAir, @KLM and Delta via their awesome, customer help-dedicated account @DeltaAssist. A response isn't guaranteed, but when phone wait times are approaching 45 minutes, it's worth it to try, right? In any case, rebooking via Twitter has worked for us several times on both JetBlue and Delta, not just during this blizzard.
Here are 5 major tips for successfully rebooking your flights fast and free via Twitter: