Even before a massive storm began pounding the East Coast, nearly 5,400 U.S. flights scheduled for Tuesday were cancelled — including nearly all of the planes at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Newark Airport leads the nation with more than 1,000 cancelled outgoing and incoming flights as of 6 a.m. Tuesday, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking website.
Though some flights were able to depart before the storm began closing in on New Jersey, Tuesday’s cancellations accounted for more than 87 percent of the day’s flights scheduled to leave from Newark.
Many airlines are waiving fees to allow travelers to change flights for later in the week. United Airlines, Newark’s largest carrier, said anyone scheduled to fly Tuesday or Wednesday can reschedule for flights through Friday for free.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that oversees the area airports, warned travelers to stay away from the airports unless they were sure their flight was still scheduled to take off.
Other area airports also had large numbers of cancellations. As of 6 a.m., the cancelled flights included 846 at LaGuardia Airport, 761 at John F. Kennedy International Airport and 439 at Philadelphia International Airport, according to FlightAware.
Port Authority officials warned travelers not to rush to the airports even after the storm winds down. They are especially concerned about crowds swamping LaGuardia Airport, where construction has caused crippling traffic problems in recent weeks.
“Looking ahead, the Port Authority said passengers without confirmed reservations should not go to LaGuardia Airport even after the storm ends. The agency has made extensive plans to accommodate what is anticipated to be significant numbers of LaGuardia passengers who need to rebook flights for Wednesday and later in the week,” the Port Authority statement said.