Canceled flights strand some in Columbia

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) — All three major New York City airports are accepting flights again following the blizzard.

Airplanes started arriving at Newark Liberty Tuesday morning. LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International began to receive inbound flights on Monday night. Nearly 1,500 total flights were canceled at all three airports.

Air travel in the nation's busiest, most crowded airspace nearly shut down, and thousands of stranded passengers turned terminals into open-air hotels while they waited for planes to take off and land on plowed runways.

"This is a nightmare, but I've decided to make it an adventure because that's all you can do," said stranded traveler Adrian Epstein.  

"I was supposed to land at LaGuardia at 4:20 yesterday and they canceled the flight then they rebooked on a flight this morning which also got canceled," said a traveler at Chicago's O'Hare.

"I'm rolled back to a 3:30pm flight because that got canceled also," said a traveler at Atlanta's Hartsfield. "So its nuts in here."

More than two feet of snow fell on some parts of the Northeast over the holiday weekend. The delays couldn't have happened at a worse time, but some people in Columbia are benefiting from the stranded travelers.

Typically this would be a slow week at the Courtyard by Marriott at USC on Assembly Street, but not this week. "Picked up about 20 guests, it's good," said Basil Trowbridge.

What is good for business is bad for travelers. "New York is just the hub of everything," said Trowbridge. "It's got planes not being able to get in and out and that's really causing havoc along the east coast, all the way to Columbia."

"I'm pretty calm," said Private Jazmine King, one of the hotel's unintended guests. "I'm calming down right now."

King was planning on being away from home in a different capacity. Only 18 and fresh out of basic training, she is en route from Georgia to her first appointment at an Army post in Germany.

"It's just been the weather," she said. "That's the main problem, it got delayed two hours, then it got delayed two more hours, then it kept getting delayed."

Now King's estimated time of departure is Wednesday. "I basically drove 300 miles to get here and I can't leave," she commented.

Until then, her surprise accommodations beat an airport floor.

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. AP and NBC contributed to this report.