Hurricane Sandy causes travel delays

Flights cancelled ahead of storm

HOUSTON - Houston travelers are dealing with delays and cancellations as Hurricane Sandy prompted dozens of flight cancellations.

'They canceled my flight at 3:28. I was on the 5:35 p.m flight," said traveler Marcia Blackwell. "There's a lady stuck in your airport with no...don't you think I would have called someone if I knew some people. I'm not from here. I'm on my spring break from school. I'm looking at law schools."

"I'm stuck here for a few more days, making the best of a bad situation," said traveler Nick Lapallo. "I was supposed to have a flight out of Binghamton. That got rerouted due to bad weather, up to Syracuse.  I got down here just fine. Now I'm getting delayed again. I'm going to have to hit the Laundromat."

Airlines said they would look at several things as they decide when to reopen the airports in the northeast. First, the power has to be back on and the airports not affected by flooding. Secondly, airport employees have to be able to safely get to work.

Because of flooding, the New York Port Authority has closed LaGuardia Airport until further notice.

Cancellations at both of Houston's airports started stacking up Sunday as the northeast braced for what meteorologists are calling a superstorm. According to the Houston Airport System, more than 100 flights through Houston were canceled on Monday. Officials said more flights were expected to be canceled.

Bonnie and Stan Edwards planned to fly to the east coast for their 23rd wedding anniversary this week.

"We were hoping to see the fall colors and tour around (the Washington) D.C.-Virginia area," Stan Edwards said. "We were looking for alternate place to go, but everything on the east coast is affected by the storm."

Rosie Goldberger of Seavents World Travel on North Braeswood said most airlines are waving the fees for people who have to change travel plans because of the grounded flights. Goldberger has been busy extending and rescheduling Houstonian's reservations.

"People felt that it was not going to be that bad," said Goldberger about clients who were already in the northeast. "And by the time they realized it was worse than what they were expecting, it was too late. There were no more seats."

If your flight is canceled, you are entitled to a refund. You should also get any frequent fliers miles back that you used to book the trip. You should make sure you reschedule your flight within the time allowed by the airline.  

The canceled flights could cost the airline industry millions of dollars. Goldberger said there is no way to know if those losses will be passed along to holiday travels in higher fares. It's why she's urging customers to book holiday trips as soon as possible.

"We don't know what prices are going to be, what changes are going to happen," she said.

Buying travel insurance can really pay off in a hurricane. A lot of policies will provide refunds for airfares and pre-paid hotels, but each policy is different. Read the fine print carefully to make sure you're covered.

Hurricane Sandy grounded thousands of flights in the U.S. northeast Monday and upended travel plans across the globe, stranding passengers from Hong Kong to Europe. The massive storm threatens to bring a near halt to air travel for at least two days in a key region for both domestic and international flights.

Major carriers such as American Airlines, United and Delta cancelled all flights into and out of three area airports in New York, the nation's busiest airspace. According to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, nearly 9,000 flights had been canceled for Monday and Tuesday, almost all related to the storm.

United Airlines, which has its largest hub in Houston, has sent several of its jets to George Bush Intercontinental Airport to keep them safe.

Delays rippled across the U.S., affecting travelers in cities such as San Francisco to Chicago. Disruptions spread to Europe and Asia, where airlines canceled or delayed flights to New York and Washington from cities that are major travel hubs including London, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Air travel in the Northeast started getting complicated on Sunday, when passengers were reporting multi-hour wait times at airline call centers.

International travelers would have to wait to get to the East Coast of the U.S. All flights from Paris to Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington were canceled. Frankfurt airport canceled several flights, with German carrier Lufthansa scrapping some to the Northeast. British Airways had to cancel all its flights to and from New York, Newark, Baltimore, Washington DC, Boston and Philadelphia.

A few flights out of Tokyo's Narita International Airport to New York, Newark and Washington were canceled Monday.

Airline/Airport Links:

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.