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Delayed airport travelers get testy, expect rain on Christmas

New York airports still reeling from the snowstorm continue to wrestle with overstuffed flights and increasingly frustrated travelers, and rain, sleet and fog could make for an unpredictable commute Christmas Day, meteorologists said.

“Just be patient,” said Bob Smerbeck, senior meteorologist at

Patience was not on display yesterday at the Delta Airlines terminal at Kennedy Airport, where travelers stuck there since Sunday were informed they’d been bumped again from a flight to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Port Authority police had to calm the unruly travelers, officials said.

Airlines were still rescheduling trips Tuesday, coping with the aftermath of 1,200 snow-related cancellations, coupled with the usual holiday rush.

“Flights are running very full this holiday week, and empty seats are at a premium,” said Sebastian White, a spokesman for JetBlue Airways, which canceled more than a fifth of its flights last weekend.

Airlines generally do not provide hotels for weather-related cancellations, and travelers were anxious to leave behind stuffy airport halls.

“We weren’t in a good mood,” said Alex Capshaw-Taylor, 28, a teacher who suffered a three-day layover on a flight to Cairo, Egypt.

Flights were delayed up to an hour Tuesday because of winds, but many travelers finally pushed off to their destinations.

“When we got off the plane in New York, we were like, ‘Yes!'” said Dawn Coffman, 60, who endured hours of delays trying to fly from Oregon to New York.

Travel should be smooth up until Christmas evening, when rain is expected to hit the city. Fog and icy conditions could especially hamper those traveling north and west of the city in the evening, Smerbeck said.

Representatives for Continental Airlines and JetBlue said they were not expecting delays on Christmas, but airlines had deicing equipment at the ready in case of freezing rain.

The holiday commute was much breezier last year, when temperatures rose to a balmy 57 on Christmas.

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