Photo credit: Adam Navarro

Thousands of passengers express outrage, left stranded at JFK following winter storm

Yesterday morning, a two plane collision sent an already backlogged John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport into further delays.

The accident caused more chaos as thousands of disgruntled passengers tried to travel after the New Year’s holiday winter storm. A multi-day madness for airport workers and passengers showed growing weaknesses in the bustling departure point.

On Saturday, a commercial plane from Kuwait Airways aircraft clipped wings with a China Southern 777.

Onboard passengers of Kuwait Airways were immediately deplaned, while no reported passengers were on China Southern’s; however, other airplanes holding passengers were left on the tarmac for hours without much explanation.

Long waits and shoddy communication by commercial airlines plagued the fifth busiest airport in the country following a massive winter blast that left massive amounts of snow.

The storm, called a bomb cyclone, hit regions of the United States in rapid time. The blizzard dumped inches in the New York area which resulted in airports like JFK to temporarily shut down.

For days, JFK officials rushed to recalibrate a flight schedule already taxed, but the distressed airport experienced a series of mechanical and computer malfunctions, frozen baggage belts, as well as extensive flight delays.

Passengers stranded at the airport became increasingly unhappy with the host of issues began to have meltdowns. At one point, small melees broke out with passenger throwing punches as they fought to navigate through thousands of stranded travelers.

Growing Pains

Photo credit: Jay Wen

JFK is long overdue for a major overhaul. Receiving a greater amount of international travelers than another other airport in the U.S., in January 2017, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a $10 billion renovation.

For the past decade, JFK has been operating to capacity, leaving unending operational issues. The renovation plan focuses on updating security, bringing in more restaurants, connecting the terminals and increasing the shopping experience.

However, left out of upgrades were other major problems, such as the inconvenience of getting to the airport and leaving. An inefficient public transit and dated machines exacerbate an airport that is certainly not too commodious to passengers.

Added to the passenger experience is the ability for JFK to accommodate about 800 flights a day in congested air traffic. Sharing flight paths with LaGuardia airport, also in Queens, and nearby Newark International, the issues increase when inclement weather occurs.

Still thawing from the snow and sorting out baggage, JFK must brace for more coming snow this week.

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