Eastern Iowa Airline Travelers Concerned about Hurricane Cancellations
By Dave Franzman, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The massive hurricane churning off the east coast could directly impact 50-million people. And while Hurricane Sandy may not do much to Iowa’s weather, it could complicate life for some travelers.
The arrival of the massive storm off the east coast prompted airlines to cancel thousands of flights. At the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids, the arrival and departure displays didn’t show any real impact as of midday Monday. Heather Wilson, marketing and communications director at the airport, said there was no impact at all, at least not yet, on local flights because service from Cedar Rapids only goes as far east as the airline hubs of Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta. Flights provided by Allegiant Air to Orlando and Tampa, would be well outside the hurricane’s landfall area.
But some travelers at the airport did say there was a concern about getting caught up in the mess and possibly having a flight cancelled elsewhere.
The problem with flying from Cedar Rapids is many travelers have to make connections at other airports to reach a final destination. And the planes going to the airline hubs may have been scheduled to come from an impacted area causing a cancellation . That could disrupt a flight even if the connecting airport is nowhere near the hurricane.
Willard Jenkins, who was flying with his wife from Cedar Rapids to San Francisco ran into that very problem and lost a day even though he was flying west and not east. Jenkins said he was scheduled to fly from Cedar Rapids to O’Hare and then on to San Francisco Sunday. But he got an e-mail notification from the airline in the middle of the night saying the flight from Chicago was off.
“The plane we were originally on was cancelled. It started in Miami, went to Philadelphia and then on to Chicago. So we spent five hours on the telephone Sunday trying to get a plane that would go from O’Hare to San Francisco,” Jenkins said.
Mary Thuesen, who was traveling from Cedar Rapids to Charlotte, North Carolina actually got good news. Even though she was traveling within 200 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, her flight via Chicago was on time. Thuesen said she was concerned about heading east on the way to the airport.
“We were, but apparently we’re not going to have trouble,” Thuesen said.
Airport officials say there’s really no way to gauge the potential impact on airline travel out of Iowa until the airlines actually start cancelling flights due to the hurricane.
They say the best advice for anyone flying in the next few days is to monitor conditions at the final destination and keep on top of any messages from your particular airline.
On the national scene, the TripAdvisor.com website polled travelers Monday asking if Hurricane Sandy was impacting their upcoming travel plans. Out of 1,500 respondents, 21% said “yes” and 79% said “no.”
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