Earthquake impacts flights, unnerves air travelers

August 23, 2011 4:16:40 PM PDT
Airports across the East Coast shut down for at least a few minutes during the earthquake, which impacted flights around the nation- and in Chicago.

Flights to Washington, D.C.; Washington Dules; New York; and Newark experienced delays into Tuesday afternoon. But storms throughout the nation may have played just as much -- if not more -- of a factor in the delays.

Officials at O'Hare Airport said travelers could expect minor delays Tuesday evening.

Steffanie Carter just arrived at O'Hare Tuesday afternoon from Washington, D.C. She was at Reagan National Airport when the earthquake shook the ground.

"You felt this rumbling under your feet and the building started shaking. I didn't know a building could shake that way. And then I saw people were saying they hadn't seen structural damage. I saw light fixtures falling out and dangling from the wires. And a woman behind me said, she yelled, 'I'm from California. This is an earthquake.' Everyone's saying, 'What is it? What is it?' In D.C., you think terrorism," Carter said.

Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said the agency issued orders to hold planes heading for Dulles International in Virginia, John F. Kennedy in New York and Philadelphia on the ground rather than let them take off.

Brown, who was evacuated from FAA's headquarters in downtown Washington, said in an email that she wasn't aware of equipment outages.

Authorities said Reagan National Airport in Northern Virginia near Washington, was operating.

Officials at O'Hare Airport said travelers could expect minor delays Tuesday evening.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.