Reporting Stephanie Lucero
GRAPEVINE (CBSDFW.COM) - Hurricane Irene has come and gone along the East Coast, but left a huge backlog of folks at airports across the nation, now filled with anxious passengers trying to get a flight back home. People started lining up at DFW International Airport early Monday morning, trying to ensure that they will be among the first to fly out.
Hopeful passengers started to arrive at the American Airlines ticketing counter and at the airport security checkpoints well before 5:00 a.m. on Monday, after spending the night at nearby hotels or on cots at the airport itself.
Airport officials estimated that about 85 people stayed in the terminals on Saturday night. Sunday night estimates have not been released.
The first flight to LaGuardia Airport in New York departed – on time – at about 6:10 a.m. on Monday. All other flights heading east on Monday are fully booked, and some passengers are afraid that they might not be able to get a flight for several days.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said New Jersey resident Jonathan Galeano, trying to get back home. “You’re happy because the hurricane didn’t do any more of upsetting impacts on the East Coast, but then it’s throwing back everything. I mean, thousands of flights are canceled. It’s a joke. Try to rebook or try to find a way back to the East Coast any way possible is our first steps. And then, after that, trying to get home is going to be a pain.”
Most of the East Coast flights were scheduled to depart on-time as of Monday morning, except for one trip to Newark, New Jersey. However, airline officials are expecting delays to pile up during the day.
Delays on Monday will be the result of two things. First, airlines positioned their airplanes away from the hurricane, some in other cities, in order to protect them during the storm. Those planes will first need to be repositioned before they can leave on scheduled flights. Second, mass transit along the East Coast is slowly starting to get back in order. This will impact airline employees in the eastern states, which will decrease staffing for airliines.