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At Logan Airport, passengers gathering as airlines plan afternoon restart

Posted by Metro Desk  December 27, 2010 12:17 PM

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Continental Airlines today briefly broke the blizzard’s stranglehold Boston’s Logan International Airport that has frustrated travel plans for thousands of people, but most airlines won’t restart operations until this afternoon, officials said.

And a band from Mount Desert High School in Maine was in a Boston hotel room, scrambling to find a way to march in London’s New Year’s Day parade after Virgin Airlines cancelled all flights from Logan for the rest of the day.

Kathy Cox, treasurer of the band's booster club said today that the 50 band members -- who spent two years planning the trip -- were hanging out in their rooms and the lobby of the Courtyard Marriott, where Virgin put them up for the night as they awaited news from their travel agent.

"We can stay two more nights, that's really all," she said, noting the timing of their Thursday concert in England. "At some point we have to cut our losses. We are trying to come up with contingency plans."

After meeting with airline officials at Logan today, Massport was given the following tentative restart times from the individual airlines:

AirTran: 4:55 p.m.
Continental: 4 p.m.
Delta: 2 p.m.
JetBlue: 3 p.m.
Southwest: 2 p.m.
United: 5 p.m.
USAir: 2 p.m.
Virgin Airlines: All flights canceled.

Massport spokesman Phil Orlandella stressed that passengers should check with airlines before coming to Logan and should try to rebook at home or online.

Massport kept Logan open and operating during the height of the blizzard, but passenger airlines literally flew out of town and now must first bring aircraft back to Boston before flights can resume, Orlandella said.

Jackie Adams, 28, a criminal defense attorney now based in Los Angeles, sat on her California-bound plane last night for about three- and-a-half hours -enough time for two rounds of de-icing and two rounds of plowing the runway before the plane was called back to the gate.

The earliest she was told by JetBlue that she could take off is Friday.

Her father, John, a TSA employee, was trying to help her find a faster way to get out of town, as she said she was anxious to get back.

"They did try," she said of their efforts to launch the plane. But if she could get Mother Nature on the phone, "I'd be asking for a brief respite, I guess."

The Burgess family was scheduled to leave for a Kenyan safari last night, but instead, they were criss-crossing the terminals, trying to find a new route.

A bus to New York was looking to be the best bet for a launch point, but they were already a day behind on the three-week trip.

The family of four left their Manchester-by-the-Sea home yesterday morning, only to have their flight to New York City canceled. They were re-routed onto a Paris-bound Air France flight, which left the gate, but suffered a mechanical problem and was called back.

"We're just disappointed," Beth Burgess said. "It's been an emotional roller coaster ride since yesterday."

"I think everyone's frustrated with each other," her daughter Heather, 18, chimed in, referring to the airport scene in general.

According to its website, Continental Airlines Flight 783 departed Logan around 11 a.m. today – about an hour behind schedule – heading to snow-free Houston.

The Newark airport, a key Continental hub, remains closed today and the airline says on its website that it won’t begin full operations until 4 p.m. today. The company said that travel in the Northeast has been delayed or halted from the potent storm.

At Logan, passenger airlines shut down all operations by about 7 p.m. Sunday, officials said.

At about 6:05 a.m. today, Teresa and James Sterling awoke in the double bed they had fashioned out of two cots handed out by airport workers. They were among the handful of hearty travelers who stayed overnight at Logan, some of whom slept on cots while others sprawled over heating vents.

The Austin, Texas, couple had planned on spending the week as tourists in Boston after touring Maine and Canada, but instead they put the $2 pillows and $20 comforter they had picked up in their travels to use in a quiet alcove inside Terminal A

"We can't drive in this weather, being from Texas," Teresa Sterling said, adding that they turned in their rental car early.

For the Sterlings, their flight was not scheduled to leave until today, but they came to Logan Sunday hoping to catch a flight out early, thinking that would be their best chance to avoid being stranded by the Christmas weekend blizzard.

The plan did not work. And now they are being told Wednesday or possibly Thursday is the earliest they can get out, after today's flight was canceled.

So they watched their first blizzard from the massive windows next to their cots, marveling at a machine that collects snow and turns it into water.

"I feel rested," James Sterling said. But "I think we've had enough snow to last us a lifetime.''

Originally published on the blog MetroDesk.

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