The sun was shining and temperatures were near 60 degrees Friday, but Charlotte felt the impact of the East Coast’s blizzard.
With more than 2 feet of snow predicted in parts of New England and the Middle Atlantic states, the major airlines curtailed their service to some of the nation’s busiest airports, and their bus and train counterparts followed suit.
It turned Charlotte-Douglas International Airport into a de facto hotel for hundreds of travelers, many of whom faced the prospect of spending Friday night sleeping in the airport lobby.
At least 80 departures and arrivals to and from Charlotte were cancelled during the day, as airports in the New York City area and across New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Ontario and Quebec were shut down.
Passengers with morning flights were lucky. Many departures went as scheduled, with only Boston’s Logan International Airport closed for the entire day. The flight cancellations increased markedly after noon, when heavy snow began falling in the Northeast.
Several travelers said early Friday morning that they successfully rebooked themselves on earlier flights, so they could reach the Northeast before the snow.
“It meant I had to spend the night here at the airport, but it also means I’ll get on a morning flight to New York,” said Bob Grinnell, who changed his schedule so he could fly to Charlotte from Fort Lauderdale on Thursday evening, then board a morning flight to LaGuardia. “I think it’s going to be a mess.”
A young couple sitting near Grinnell said they had done the same thing, catching a flight from St. Louis to Charlotte on Thursday evening, so they could fly Friday morning to Boston.
But not everyone was so lucky.
Marie Cavanaugh’s flight to Charlotte was delayed Thursday evening, and she missed a connecting flight home to Providence.
“It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to fly on Friday,” Cavanaugh said. “It could be Sunday before I can get home.”
Michelle Mohr of US Airways said her airline had more than 400 flight cancellations Friday. She said US Airways, like other airlines, had travel advisories on their webpages, informing travelers that the fee for rebooking a flight was being waived.
Many of the cancellations came well before the snowflakes started flying.
“Cancelling flights in advance is something we try to do, to prevent passengers from getting stranded,” Mohr said. “We try to stay ahead of the curve.”
Greyhound suspended service on routes connecting New York City, Boston, Albany, Bangor, Montreal and Toronto.
And Amtrak shut down service north of New York City. Service out of Charlotte was not affected by the winter storm, but anyone planning to travel north of New York City was out of luck.
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