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Weather, volume cause flight delays on one of the busiest travel days of the year, FAA reports

A plow removes snow at an entrance of

A plow removes snow at an entrance of the Kansas Turnpike near Lawrence, Kan., on Sunday. Credit: AP/Orlin Wagner

On the final day of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend — one of the busiest travel days of the year — weather and heavy volume caused flight delays at several major Northeast airports, and blizzard-like conditions shut down Kansas City’s airport Sunday afternoon, the Federal Aviation Administration reported on its website.

At  Kennedy Airport Sunday night, heavy volume was causing flight departure delays of up to 30 minutes, with less serious delays for arriving flights. At Newark Liberty International Airport, delays for departing flights were up to 45 minutes Sunday night, also because of heavy volume.


Kansas City International Airport in Missouri was shut down Sunday afternoon for snow removal but was open by early Sunday evening, with only minor delays reported.

The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings from eastern Kansas to northeastern Illinois, including the Chicago area. Chicago O’Hare International Airport, a key connection point for East Coast travelers transferring from places farther west, was experiencing delays of arriving flights of more than five and a half hours at one point, the FAA reported.

The National Weather Service forecast that the storm stretching from Kansas to Michigan would bring up to a foot of snow in some areas, along with high winds and blizzard-like conditions, with dangerous travel conditions and power outages.

An Amtrak train shuffling holiday commuters out of New York City was stuck in a Long Island City, Queens, train yard for more than five hours Sunday because of a faulty power connection, according to Amtrak. The Acela 2230 left Penn Station around 9:30 a.m. and was supposed to arrive in Boston around 1:35 p.m., but it was powered down until shortly after 3 p.m. as Amtrak tried to address the problem, riders said.

“During that time, because of the power, none of the toilets were flushing — the toilets were quite full," said Nicholas Yeh, 23, a teacher from Boston who was on the train.

Flights to Boston were being delayed from their departure points Sunday evening because of low clouds, with delays averaging more than an hour and a half.

Industry trade group Airlines for America this month projected that a record 30.6 million passengers would travel on U.S. airlines from Nov. 16 through Nov. 27 with 3.06 million passengers projected to travel Sunday — expected to be the busiest day during the Thanksgiving air travel period. This is an increase of about 1.6 million passengers compared with the same 12-day period last year, the trade group reported on its website.

AAA reported that nearly 49 million travelers were expected to hit the road over Thanksgiving weekend. Robert Sinclair Jr., AAA spokesman for New York and New Jersey, said Sunday that mild weather in the area could make people's travel easier. 

"Cold temperatures are not good for batteries or tires," Sinclair said. "So with it being warmer today it might lead to fewer breakdowns."

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey advised travelers to allow extra time for travel, check-in and security at Newark Liberty  Airport due to road congestion and an increased number of travelers. The authority also advised travelers to allow extra time at LaGuardia Airport and to book parking in advance or use alternative transportation to get to the airport.

Heavy traffic Sunday afternoon was causing  delays on the George Washington Bridge between Manhattan and New Jersey and delays at the Goethals Bridge that connects Staten Island and New Jersey, the Port Authority reported.  

The private website FlightAware’s “Misery Map” showed 689 delays and 153 cancellations at U.S. airports from 5 to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

With Vincent Barone

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