For Sandy's Stranded Travelers, Few Certainties

PHOTO: Travelers on Delta Airlines look at a departure screen, Oct. 29, 2012, in Detroit.

For travelers stranded by superstorm Sandy, the question is, 'When will I get home?'

The answer will be different, depending on where you're arriving and departing, the mode of transportation and how many people are in your traveling party.

With nearly 16,000 flights canceled as a result of the storm, according to FlightAware, everyone who didn't opt for a refund is going to be looking for an empty seat on a flight once the carriers start to resume normal schedules, whenever that is.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news conference Tuesday that New York's JFK airport could reopen Wednesday, but La Guardia would remain closed because of damage.

Most Amtrak service in the Northeast remains suspended today, Oct. 30. The company said a decision on restoring limited service north and south of New York on Oct. 31 would be made later today.

All US Airways flights to and from some 19 Northeast airports have been canceled through Tuesday, according to its website. Included in the list are all three New York-area airports, and airports in Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

On Monday afternoon, Delta said limited flying was expected to resume Tuesday evening at LaGuardia and JFK, with a full restart targeted for Wednesday. But the carrier changed course Tuesday morning, saying it would not fly from any of the New York airports today after all. "The situation will continue to be closely monitored," the airline said. "Flying at other U.S. East Coast airports, including Boston Logan and the major Washington, D.C.-area airports, is resuming Tuesday."

The airline has extended its relaxed rebooking policy through Nov. 7.

American Airlines and American Eagle said operations would be suspended at eight airports in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast until "at least" midday Wednesday, Oct. 31. Those airports include all the New York-area airports (including Newark); Washington, D.C. airports (including Baltimore), Norfolk and Philadelphia. In addition, the airline said it is experiencing "late starts" at seven others, including Boston. Chicago O'Hare, the airline's hub, is also "significantly impacted by weather conditions in the area."

"We're hopeful that operations will resume in most cities on Wednesday, but it's possible that the aftermath of the storm may force some additional delays and cancellations," airline spokesman Matt Miller said in an email.

JetBlue planned to resume flights out of new York's JFK, its hub, by Wednesday. The airline updated its flexible travel policy, which includes waiving change fees through Nov. 14. It had originally previously waived fees through Nov. 4.

United Airlines plans to resume inbound flights to its hubs in Washington, D.C., and Cleveland on Tuesday. Washington was expected to resume "a more normal flight schedule" on Wednesday. The airline said it expected to resume inbound flights only at New York/Newark early Wednesday afternoon. The carrier also extended its waiver and refund policy to include flights on Nov. 1, and extended the rebooking period from Nov. 4 to Nov. 7.

Southwest Airlines had suspended operations at 13 airports, including those in New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.

Orbitz, the travel booking website, said it's seeing spikes in hotel bookings in some of the Northeast's most affected cities. Hotel bookings are up 15 percent in New York City and 68 percent in Washington, D.C., compared with last week.

It appears some travelers may be renting cars to get to their destinations. Orbitz data showed prices for rental cars in some cities had skyrocketed compared with last week, an indicator of increased demand. Prices in Philadelphia are up 50 percent.

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