Local News

Competition fierce for standby seats on RDU flights

Posted December 28, 2010
Updated December 29, 2010

— As the number of flights taking off from Raleigh-Durham International Airport increased Tuesday, so did the competition for seats among travelers who have been stuck at the airport since Sunday.

Airports in the Northeast began to return to normal schedules Tuesday after two days of disruptions because of the same same storm system that dumped up to a foot of snow on North Carolina.

The backlog of travelers who have been trying to fly out of RDU since Sunday are now scrambling for any available seats on planes headed to New York, Boston and elsewhere.

Beverly Stowe and her son, Jake, had been visiting relatives in Fuquay-Varina for the Christmas holiday, but their Sunday flight to New York was canceled.

"The flights were canceled Monday. We called (Tuesday) morning, and there was room – eight seats – but now I find out that a (flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport) was canceled. So, all of those people are going to go onto our flight," Beverly Stowe said.

"The woman at the counter said that she wouldn't try (Tuesday) if it was her," she continued. "I said, 'But we're here. We're here. We want to go home."

RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said 22 arrivals and departures were canceled on Tuesday, down from more than 100 on Monday.

Angela Ross and her 8-year-old daughter, Kayla, can't get a flight home to California until Wednesday. They were supposed to leave on Sunday.

"I couldn't believe it because I was thinking perhaps (we could fly out Monday)," Ross said.

She said she didn't want to spend three days in the airport with her daughter, so Delta Airlines paid for them to spend two nights at a nearby Hilton Garden Inn. Ross is paying for the third night.

Stranded passengers at RDU Competition fierce for standby seats on RDU flights

Kayla said she was enjoying her stay. She went shopping and to a movie with her mother and has had time to play with her Christmas toys.

"I like it because I like staying in hotels," she said.

Her mother, on the other hand, had had enough by Tuesday.

"It's nice to come visit (and) see family and friends, but after a few days, you're ready to get back home," Ross said.

Although Kerri and Jon Gaudelli said they initially felt fortunate to have scheduled their flight for Tuesday, their flight was eventually canceled. They had to spend the night in a Raleigh hotel before renting a car to drive to New York.

Other travel woes ease

Traveling by car and train also was getting easier Tuesday.

Major roads in the Triangle were fairly clear of snow and ice, but slick spots remained on some secondary roads. Shady areas and spots on hills where the sun hasn't been able to melt snow and ice, highway entrance and exit ramps and smaller residential streets were especially treacherous for drivers.

Delay, cold depot irk Amtrak passengers Delay, cold depot irk Amtrak passengers

Some people were stranded for about 12 hours at the Amtrak station in downtown Raleigh early Tuesday before finally boarding a train. Snow had slowed rail service along much of the East Coast since Sunday, and a train that was supposed to arrive in Raleigh at 9 p.m. Monday didn't pull in until after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

"Nobody let us know there was this much of a delay. If I had known that, I probably wouldn't have come. I would have made other arrangements," said Virginia Travis, who planned to take a train to Tampa, Fla.

Travis and other passengers also complained that the train station wasn't heated properly for their overnight stay.

"I understand that the trains (are) delayed because of the weather and everything, but we've all been like Popsicles," Travis said. "There's been children here (and) elderly adults and just no relief from the cold."

An Amtrak spokesman said the temperature in the station was kept in the mid-60s. The company offered discounted hotel rooms for the passengers, he said, but many chose to wait at the station.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • carolinarox Dec 29, 2010

    If we are complaining about airlines, I have a beef...what happened to that little triangle of airplane cheese? Really, it's not to much to ask to give us that little nugget of delicious cheese. I miss it. thefish

    Eastern had the best little cheese nuggets with their fairly decent mini submarine sandwiches. I honestly think it was Laughing Cow cheese which you can now find in grocery stores.

  • oleguy Dec 29, 2010

    Flying is such sweet sorrow,,,,

  • ProudBlackSingleMother Dec 28, 2010

    I have no compassion for whiners.

  • whatelseisnew Dec 28, 2010

    I likely will never fly again. I refuse to be groped or radiated.

  • RB-1 Dec 28, 2010

    "An Amtrak spokesman said the temperature in the station was kept in the mid-60s. The company offered discounted hotel rooms for the passengers, he said, but many chose to wait at the station."

    I'd like to see some kind of proof of that, cause the passengers said otherwise, and no one in their right mind would turn down a hotel room in those circumstances, or many others actually.

  • RB-1 Dec 28, 2010

    "Angela Ross and her 8-year-old daughter, Kayla, can't get a flight home to California until Wednesday."

    Why aren't California flights moving?

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Dec 28, 2010

    they couldn't pay me to fly and deal with all that garbage and disease.
    I haven't flown in years and hope to never do so again. unless it's a private plane where I can wave to all you suckers waiting to be felt up.

  • Rebelyell55 Dec 28, 2010

    I would love to see Amtrak excutives and mid-level managers have to work in 60 or mid 60 degree offices in the middle of a snow storm. Another example of corp. greed in America.

  • NeverSurrender Dec 28, 2010

    "I've never been on a half-empty domestic flight.. not even after 9/11. There's a reason that the airlines were super profitable this year - they've cut capacity since the recession struck, and even if they hadn't, the holiday season is the busiest anyway. "

    Don't forget the nickel-and-dime fees they've been tacking on for pax who have the temerity to bring a checked bag with them on their trip or have to react to the fact that real life is often more chaotic than scheduled flight ops and *GASP!* change their plans.

    My favourite has been AMR's latest "pay a fee now to avoid an exhorbitant fee later" scam.

    I do agree that the airlines could care less about cattle-class and rightly so...their money is in J/F class, not Y!

    The American consumer has said it loudly since deregulation...lowest price gets the booking, period. WN has managed to combine low cost with decent service...the legacy carriers can't compete as long as they are hostage to bloated union contracts.

  • NeverSurrender Dec 28, 2010

    "Uh...deutschgirl...weather is ALWAYS a potential problem in the hub and spoke model that most of our airlines fly. Even today, most of the country is at the mercy of the NYC-area airports. It's unfortunate, but major storms cause major problems."

    If you're west of the Mississippi, then ORD is usually not your friend, either.

    Ground holds and sequencing delays are quite common coming out of there and often it has nothing to do with wx but rather too many aircraft in an itty-bitty airspace right over the Windy City.

    The irony is that ORD conducts near-normal flight ops during the most horrific weather but imposes ground holds that ripple through the system when it's beautiful in Chicago with unlimited visibility.

    That gets really exciting when you're on the runway at RST with a tornado inbound about five miles from your six! Captain offered them a simple choice...get us in the air to outrun the tornado or he's heading to the gate and shutting down.

    Fastest takeoff I've seen!