LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A powerful winter storm affecting the Midwest and Northeast is continuing to cause travel headaches at Los Angeles International Airport.
A total of 35 flights were canceled Monday at LAX, and an estimated 5,250 passengers were affected, airport officials said.
Many passengers have been stranded at LAX for days.
“It was a huge nightmare…it was pandemonium,” LAX passenger Georgia Humphreys said. “I felt really sorry for some of the people who worked at the airports because they were under so much stress.”
“We had a great trip to Hawaii and I hate this to be our memory of what our trip was,” said one traveler, whose two-hour layover turned into a two-day stay in Los Angeles.
“I know there’s weather and I know it’s real cold in Chicago, but I somehow think they could do a little better than this,” said LAX passenger Carol Mihal.
KCAL9’s Rachel Kim reported that there were huge lines at United’s counters on Monday evening, where grounded passengers waited to be re-booked.
Traveler Linda Visosky said she missed a connecting flight because a flight crew had to take a break.
“We were taken to a different terminal and it took another hour to be told…here we are, three and a half hours later, still waiting, no water,” she said.
For John Ighani, the wait was especially hard.
“We’ve been in line for almost two hours and no employees. My dad has passed away. I’m trying to get to Louisiana,” he said.
The storm, which has brought several inches of snow and sub-freezing temperatures, forced officials to cancel or delay 11,000 flights nationwide, according to FlightAware.com.
JetBlue grounded planes at New York’s big three airports and in Boston due to the weather.
In addition, American Airlines advised travelers of trouble at its major Chicago hub and airports nationwide.
The airline also released a statement which said, in part, “Fuel and Glycol Supplies are frozen at ORD (Chicago O’Hare Int’l Airport); additionally, our employees are only able to be on the ramp for a few minutes at a time because wind chills are as low as 45 degrees below zero at some airports.”
CBS News aviation and safety consultant Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger believes new pilot fatigue rules, which require rest periods, and the extremely cold weather have overwhelmed the airlines.
“These inconveniences, as real as they are to people trying to get home, are temporary. And in the whole scheme of things, they’re relatively minor. What we’re talking about is saving lives,” the retired pilot said.
Airlines said it could be several days until flight schedules return to normal.
“After having frozen toes for the past few days, it’s nice to be back in the warmth of LA,” said passenger Jessica Sloan, who was happy to finally make it home.
Chris Kasick made it back to LA four days later than scheduled after his connecting JetBlue flight in New York was delayed.
“I’ve never seen JFK so insane. There were hundreds and hundreds of people just sleeping in the luggage place. No one has luggage. I don’t have any bags, so I gotta get my clothes back,” he said.
Kasick added, “I had to spend $3,000 out of my own pocket to get the hotel room, the flight.”