East Coast blizzard affects Chicago flights

December 27, 2010 (CHICAGO)

More than 200 flights were canceled at O'Hare and Midway airports because of the severe weather.

Frustration was felt in Chicago as thousands of travelers were left stranded. It could still be several days before air travel gets back to normal.

"It's just one canceled flight after another," said Teresa Kochneck.

Kochneck was just one of those travelers at O'Hare trying to rebook flights to the East Coast, most of which were canceled since just before the blizzard hit Sunday.

Jamee White and her boyfriend Seth had been trying to get from California to New York since 4 a.m. Sunday.

"We have a really expensive house rental that is non-refundable that is starting the 29th," White said. "We have tickets to see Prince. We have three nights of Phish tickets. Hopefully we will get there."

Then there was Ellen Haddigan, who flew in from New Jersey to surprise her mom for Christmas. With 30 inches of snow on the ground at Newark, she was the surprised one.

"We really need to get back because we're opening a story in New Jersey and we're under construction and they are waiting for us," Haddigan said.

But not all stranded passengers were frustrated. Mark Remy was trying to get back to Allentown, Pa., from Vancouver. While stuck in Chicago, the RunnersWorld.com editor invited all of his Chicago readers to go on a run with him Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. at the Bean. After that, he planned to rent a car and drive home.

"Forget the flying. At the rate we're going, it'd be faster to run home at this point," Remy said.

O'Hare was a quiet place Monday night as a handful of East Coast flights landed with fortunate passengers.

"I'm just six hours later than I should be, given the size of the storm and the effect it had on the Northeast, I consider myself pretty lucky," said David Rabinowitz.

"Incredible, I thought I was going to have to cancel my trip, I was really happy that this happened," said Laurie Schenkel.

People traveling by rail were also having a difficult time getting to East Coast destinations. Amtrak had added trains and extended lines between Chicago and cities like New York and Washington, D.C. People at Union Station Monday morning were trying to rebook their trips, but many of those routes for trips leaving Monday night were sold out.

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