FORT MYERS, Fla.- Airline travelers are going nowhere fast because of the blizzard bearing down on the Northeast.
By early Monday evening, more than 6,700 U.S. flights through Tuesday had already been scrubbed, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.
Most were to or from cities in the storm’s path, from Washington through New York to Boston. Around 2,000 flights were delayed.
Cancellations and delays will spill over into Wednesday, if not longer. Airlines cancel flights before storms arrive to prevent passengers from driving to the airport and getting stranded in the terminal. Airlines also want to avoid having their planes stuck at snowed-in airports.
Most major U.S. carriers said they would allow passengers ticketed to, from or through the Northeast through Tuesday or Wednesday to change their plans without getting hit by a reservation-changing fee, typically $200.
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“It is nice to have some sunshine and warmth,” said Nancy Monds.
Monds and her friend, Julie, are stuck at RSW because their flight back to Washington DC was cancelled.
“And they told us we can’t even go out tomorrow because of wind,” said Julie Modaressi.
The crippling winter storm in the Northeast is delaying and cancelling thousands of flights nationwide.
All the of snow up north and frigid conditions makes Southwest Florida not the worst place to be stranded.
“Restaurants, hotels and attractions are all reporting record breaking numbers,” said Pamela Johnson with the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau.
Johnson says it’s a boost to the local economy when folks have to stay here longer because of wintery weather up north.
“It does have an affect when you are up north and you are getting hit storm after storm,” said Johnson.
Hotels close to the airport also benefit. Many are already packed, but try to find rooms for those like Joe Friel whose flight was also cancelled back to New Jersey.
“I am a beach person so I will go out to Sanibel, Captiva. Like I said, I am retired now, so it doesn’t matter when I get back. If I have to stay here another couple days, gee that’s terrible.”