Snowstorm causes major travel disruptions

More than 5,000 flights canceled

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority trains in Boston sit idle early Saturday because of high winds and the nearly two feet of snow that fell in the area overnight. Enlarge photo

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority trains in Boston sit idle early Saturday because of high winds and the nearly two feet of snow that fell in the area overnight.

NEW YORK – New York’s airports dug out from under nearly a foot of snow and started letting some flights land Saturday, while Boston’s Logan Airport remained closed.

The first inbound passenger flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport landed at 9:30 a.m., according to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which operates the region’s three major airports.

Meanwhile, Amtrak said the New York-Boston train route would remain closed Saturday as crews cleared tracks of snow and fallen trees. Trains were running south from New York, and between New York and Albany.

Airports in the Northeast shut down Friday afternoon as a snowstorm of potentially historic proportions blew in. The storm brought more than 2 feet of snow in some parts of New England and left more than 650,000 homes and businesses without power at its peak.

These days, airlines try to get ahead of big storms by canceling flights in advance. They want to avoid having crews and planes stuck in one area of the country. They also face fines for leaving passengers stuck on a plane for more than three hours under a rule that went into effect in 2010.

Logan Airport said it expected to open one runway by 11 p.m. Saturday. Across the region, flights were expected to be back on close to normal schedules today.

Flight-tracking website FlightAware said airlines have canceled 5,368 flights because of the storm. Airlines have waived the usual fees to change tickets for flights in the affected areas.

Hardest hit was United Airlines. It has canceled 710 scheduled between Friday and today, according to FlightAware. That doesn’t include regional airlines operating as United Express. The count almost doubles when including those, United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said.

Delta Air Lines canceled 1,200 flights, including regional Delta Connection flights operated by partners.

Even with flights resuming, the airlines recommended that travelers check their websites before heading out to the airport.

Daniel Baker, CEO of FlightAware, noted that the timing of this storm worked in the airlines’ favor.

“Fortunately, Saturday is the lightest travel day of the week, so airlines can use the day to restart their operations in time for the Sunday evening travel rush,” Baker said earlier as airlines were starting their cancellations.

Still, the storm disrupted thousands of travelers.

Denny Lindersson, a tourist from Sweden, was making his way across New York City with his family Saturday morning after spending the night at a hotel close to Kennedy Airport. Their Saturday-morning flight to the Cayman Islands was canceled. JetBlue Airways rebooked them for a Monday flight, but rather than wait, the Linderssons bought new tickets on a flight from Newark Airport in New Jersey on Saturday afternoon.

“JetBlue didn’t pay for anything,” he grumbled, also noting that Sweden’s biggest airport would not have shut down because of 11 inches of snow.

Several professional and college sports teams were stranded by the storm. The NBA’s New York Knicks were stuck in Minnesota after playing the Timberwolves on Friday night. The San Antonio Spurs stayed overnight in Detroit, as they awaited word on flying to New York for their game Sunday night with the Brooklyn Nets.

AP Airlines Writer Scott Mayerowitz contributed to this report.