Diana Somerville was looking forward to a week in Canada with her family last Thanksgiving.
But the weather gods were not smiling upon her. Just before she was supposed to drive up to Victoria, a major blizzard struck near her home in Washington State, making the roads impassable.
“All highways and airports were shut down so I called and cancelled the reservation,” she says. “Extended forecasts said still more snowstorms were on the way so I sadly relinquished the idea of our holiday weekend vacation.”
Notice anything funny about this itinerary? Look closely.
Yeah, that’s right. I’m scheduled to arrive in Washington after my departure tomorrow.
JetBlue sent it to me after canceling last night’s flight because of a snowstorm that was forecast to slam Washington. When I phoned the airline to point out the problem with its proposed schedule, a representative laughed.
“Oh,” she said, “that’s just our system.”
A sense of humor! That’s the first thing you’ve gotta have that when you’re dealing with thousands of canceled flights over several weeks. You have to be able to laugh about it.
Anyone who thinks tarmac delays are dead was in for a little shock this week. Hundreds of flights were delayed in a series of powerful blizzards, and a few sat between the runway and the terminal for hours, waiting for the weather to clear.
The Transportation Department, which hasn’t fined a single airline for a tarmac delay since instituting its three-hour rule last spring, will almost certainly have to take some enforcement action this time. And, of course, there’s a big loophole: International flights remain exempt from the turnback rule.
More than two dozen international flights waited more than three hours from Monday to Wednesday to get to an open gate in New York, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.