Blizzard’s snow woe felt all the way in South Florida

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Carole Cox, who had been in Miami for a work conference, had every intention of flying to Manhattan Monday to make it home before the city got slammed by a late-in-the-season nor’easter to experience “the first big snow we’ve seen in a while.”

But American Airlines had other plans for her. Her 5:30 p.m. flight out of Miami International Airport into New York’s LaGuardia was changed to 7:30 and then canceled altogether.

“I just want to go home,” said Cox, a professor at Fordham University, who ended up changing her flight to go to Raleigh to wait out the storm with her daughter. “It’s been a really long, stressful day. I think [American Airlines] could have been way more helpful.”

Thousands of people across the country will experience similar travel woes as airlines and airports prepare for the late-winter storm, which is expected to dump nearly two feet of snow and bring heavy winds throughout the mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, late Monday through Tuesday. More than 5,000 flights had already been canceled for Tuesday ahead of the storm, according to flightaware.com. As of Tuesday morning, MIA reported that three flights were delayed at 111 canceled due to the blizzard.

While South Florida temperatures won’t be drastically affected by the winter blast — temperatures are expected to drop by Tuesday night — the airports were definitely impacted Monday. Travelers were urged to check the websites of their airline before heading to the airport.

“We start the process early based on the forecast,” said American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein, adding the airline tries to get as many planes out of the affected areas ahead of the storm. “We can’t predict what Mother Nature is going to do, but we can prepare for it.”

Cancellations littered the arrival and departure screens at South Florida airports Monday night, forcing passengers to reschedule — if they hadn’t already. Friday, as forecasters called for the bad weather, American Airlines offered travelers waivers to change their flights.

“We try to give additional flexibility to help people move around,” he said.

Greg Meyer, a spokesman for Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, said “anytime there is a severe storm in the Northeast, it affects us here.”

From late Monday through Tuesday evening, New York City could see as much as 20 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Blizzard conditions, with wind gusts exceeding 35 miles per hour, are also expected from the Philadelphia area to Maine. Monday evening blizzard warnings were in effect for Northeastern New Jersey, Rockland and Westchester New York, Southwest Connecticut and interior Southeast Connecticut, New York City, and Western Long Island, the National Weather Service reported.

“We’re preparing for a significant storm on Tuesday, and New Yorkers should also prepare for snow and dangerous road conditions,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told the Associated Press.

For Cox, who arrived at MIA at 1 p.m. after not being able to get through to American on the phone, said she wished the airline made it easier on the customers.

While she knows she can’t blame the weather, she said the airline could find ways to ease wait times and “communicate better.”

“I am one of the lucky ones,” she said about being able to visit her daughter. “ I feel bad for the people who are stuck here.”

El Nuevo Herald staff photojournalist C.M. Guerrero and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Whom To Call

American Airlines

To contact American, call 800-433-7300. For Spanish, call 800-633-3711. If you have a hearing or speech impairment, call 800-543-1586. Or visit aa.com

Delta Air Lines

To contact Delta, call 1-800-221-1212

To contact Jet Blue, call 1-800-JETBLUE (538-2583) or visit jetblue.com

Southwest Airlines

To contact Southwest, call 1-800-435-9792 or visit southwest.com

Spirit Airlines

To contact Spirit, call 1-801-401-2222 or visit customersupport.spirit.com


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