The shockwaves caused by New York City’s John F Kennedy Airport going down are felt around the world. The airport receives more international traffic than any other United States airport.
The impact became real recently when disruptions caused by a powerful winter storm were compounded by confusions in communication as to whether the airport was, in fact, up an running caused a number of problems.
Over 7000 flights were canceled in response to the storm causing many travelers to be stranded abroad after finding they would have no return flights home.
The chaos at JFK was sometimes unbearable: Thousands of passengers arrived at the airport only to find that their connecting flights would be delayed for hours. Equipment on the ground malfunctioned due to the cold temperatures and repair efforts were slowed due to high winds and the ice that was on the ground.
The New York/New Jersey Port Authority made the decision to close the airport on Thursday when the storm was at its peak. This meant that incoming flights to JFK would be diverted to nearby airports. But when the airport reopened for business, the flight diversions continued because there were not enough gates operating at JFK to handle both the flights that had been delayed the day before and the newly arriving flights of the present day.
The Federal Aviation Administration stepped in Saturday and suspended the arrivals of some flights. One inbound flight from Moscow was forced to turn back midway through the flight and dozens of other flights were forced to land elsewhere, even as far away as Detroit. In total, at least 230 flights have been diverted with over half of those diversions being international flights with JFK as their destination.
There were frustrations on the part of travelers stranded at JFK and many took to social media to voice their complaints. One common complaint was that travelers were not allowed to retrieve their luggage while bags continued to pile up in baggage claim areas.
The airport seemed near to normal operations on Monday despite the fact that more than 100 flights were canceled at JFK and other area airports as snow and ice were once again in the New York area forecast.