CHICAGO (CBS) — As you might imagine, Hurricane Irene caused headaches at airports across the country on Saturday.
Thousands of flights were cancelled nationwide, including more than 200 at O’Hare International Airport and more than 30 at Midway International Airport.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, a few passengers got out of the East Coast just in the nick of time.
Flying into O’Hare meant the world for New Yorker Rich Artura. He took the last American Airlines flight out of John F. Kennedy Airport Saturday morning.
“Nothing short of wanting to kiss the ground,” he said after arriving at O’Hare.
All New York area airports shut down at noon Saturday because of the threat of Hurricane Irene.
Lindsay Brown said it was nearly impossible to get a ticket to Chicago.
“We were on the last flight out, we went to four different terminals to try to get a flight and finally got the last flight out on American,” she said.
Brown and her boyfriend, en route to Italy, exhausted themselves trying to book a new flight through Chicago, because their direct flight from New York to Rome was cancelled.
“We were on phone until 2 a.m. trying to talk to the airlines, nothing, we couldn’t get through, there were 60 minute waits,” she said.
Calling didn’t work, so they just showed up at JFK Saturday morning.
“It was chaotic, the lines were crazy, the staff were very, very tired, everyone’s impatient,” Brown said.
And the flight boards at O’Hare showed plenty of cancellations to and from the East Coast.
“American cancelled all flights out of D.C. starting at noon today through noon tomorrow, so I got the last flight to Chicago,” said
Artura called it bittersweet. He’s glad he made it to Chicago in time for his business trip but he couldn’t help thinking of those he left behind.
“I got 3 small kids at home, a wife, and, you know, a whole lot of other. My whole family’s in New York. I don’t have anything else,” Artura said.
The last flight that came in from JFK Airport on American Airlines was at 11:23 a.m. Saturday. It was around the same time for the other airlines.