UK & World News
Sandy Could Mean Costly Delays For Travellers
Airline passengers delayed by Sandy may have to pay out thousands and wait days to reach their destinations, following the grounding of thousands of flights.
Flight-tracking service FlightAware posted details of 13,500 cancelled national and international flights for Monday and Tuesday, almost all related to the stormy conditions.
By early Tuesday, more than 500 flights scheduled for Wednesday were on hold, with more delays expected to be announced later.
More than a hundred UK departures and arrivals from New York and other East Coast cities were cancelled on Tuesday alone. The majority were due to operate via Heathrow.
But British Airways and Virgin Atlantic were able to resume some flights to Washington DC and Boston.
A British Airways spokesman said: "We are doing all we can to help customers whose flights have been cancelled and will look to use larger aircraft on some routes when the full flying schedule resumes to help get customers to their correct destination as quickly as we can."
Virgin Atlantic had to scrap most of its US East Coast services on Monday and Tuesday but said it is planning to operate a "recovery flight" on Wednesday to repatriate as many passengers as possible.
A Virgin spokeswoman said: "Passenger and crew safety is our number one priority and we are continuously liaising with local authorities to assess the situation and minimise the disruption caused to passengers wherever possible."
UK airports were advising passengers due to travel to the US to contact their airline before travelling.
All airlines flying out of the European Union are obliged under the EU Denied Boarding Regulations to provide or pay for later flights, accommodation and refreshments if travellers are delayed.
But there is no such obligation for US carriers. Passengers on these flights should contact their insurers for compensation.
Under ABTA regulations anyone who booked their flight as part of a package deal can change or cancel their trip with a refund on the package price.
Businessman Alan Shrem was due to return home to Florida from Hong Kong via New York on Monday.
He is now on a waiting list with the next confirmed seat not until November 4.
"They just say: Yeah, it's a pretty big waiting list," said Mr Shrem, throwing up his hands.
In the meantime, he will have to fork out $400 a night to continue staying at a nearby hotel.
The impact on the airline's finances is less clear. Many of the customers on flights currently being cancelled will reschedule later on, so the airlines will still collect the fares.
But the cost of parking planes for days, along with potential damage, will undoubtedly cost airlines millions.