BOSTON – High winds and a powerful storm system moving through the Northeast stranded some travelers and delayed others indefinitely on Wednesday, the busiest travel day of the year.
Some of the lengthiest delays were at Philadelphia International Airport, a major hub for US Airways, where flights were 1 hour and 55 minutes behind schedule on average by midday Wednesday.
In the New York area, delays were ranging from 30 minutes at Newark International Airport to 51 minutes at New York LaGuardia, according to air traffic control updates from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Despite the storm, many travelers were pleasantly surprised to find their flights were still on schedule Wednesday.
Arriving travelers faced heavy turbulence due to winds as flights approached Boston’s Logan airport on Wednesday, but many flights were still departing. Average delays in and out of Boston were reported by the FAA as being no more than 15 minutes.
But the powerful winds interrupted carriers flying smaller planes. Cape Air, which flies aircraft like the Cessna 402, canceled dozens of flights to destinations like Provincetown and Nantucket in Massachusetts; Saranac Lake, N.Y.; and Augusta, Maine.
Shortly before 1 p.m. EST, a Cape Air gate agent announced that winds had reached 90 mph on some flight routes, even at the low elevation of 200 feet. Though many flights were listed as delayed, gate agents advised travelers to make alternate plans or head home.
Some travelers simply decided to wait out the storm — encouraged by the fact that the National Weather Service Wind Advisory was in force only until 4 p.m.
Nantucket-bound traveler Rachel Delano, a 24-year-old student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, took advantage of the offer by some airlines to waive change fees and had flown into Boston from Philadelphia on Tuesday night in the hope of beating the storm. She made it to Boston only to find her flight to Nantucket canceled.
While other passengers on her canceled flight opted to drive to ferries for an ocean crossing to the islands, Delano decided to take a chance that the winds would calm faster than the rough seas. (Many ferries to the islands were canceled Wednesday morning due to high winds).
“I knew I was going to be stranded in Boston today,” she said, noting that she’d brought a new novel “Affinity” and was already halfway through. A day at the airport was worth it, she said, to make it to Nantucket for the Thanksgiving “plunge” – a fundraiser for the library in which locals run into the ocean – and time with her parents: “We’re a small family, we’re not even big enough to eat a whole turkey,” she said.
Delano said she’s become accustomed to travel hiccups, no matter the season, when she tries to visit her parents in Nantucket: “This seems to happen to us no matter what.” But her family lives by a motto that makes the delays easier to handle.
“My dad always says ‘It wouldn’t be special if it was easy to get here or easy to leave,’” she said.