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Flights canceled amid storms

Airlines make hundreds of cancellations in the Northeast. JetBlue tries to avoid another mess.

March 17, 2007|From Reuters

NEW YORK — Winter returned to the northeastern United States on Friday after a period of spring-like weather, with snowstorms forcing airlines to cancel hundreds of flights.

Snow and rain halted ground transportation at New York's LaGuardia Airport and Philadelphia International, with many airports from Washington to Boston experiencing delays.

The National Weather Service issued a winter-storm warning covering most of the territory over states from Pennsylvania to Maine, with heavy snow warnings for some areas.

JetBlue Airways Corp. canceled 235 flights, aiming to avoid its troubles of a month ago, when passengers were trapped in grounded aircraft for as many as 10 hours because of the weather. More than 200 of them involved flights to or from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, airline spokesman Sebastian White said.

US Airways Group Inc. canceled 150 flights, mostly because of the backup at Philadelphia and LaGuardia, a spokesman said. Delta Air Lines Inc. announced Thursday that it would cancel 250 flights, and a spokesman for American Airlines, part of AMR Corp., said the airline canceled 120 flights.

JetBlue Airways said it would cost $30 million or more to reimburse the 130,000 or so passengers affected by canceled flights in February, leading to a fall in its share price.

The low-cost carrier, which has won fans in the past for its reluctance to cancel flights because of bad weather, blamed last month's problems on its inability to cope with rescheduling so many flight crews.

In response, Jetblue unveiled a "customer bill of rights," a sliding scale of reimbursements for delayed flights that offers the value of a round-trip ticket for flights that are four or more hours late. Passengers whose flights were canceled Friday were offered refunds or a chance to rebook travel through April 30 without paying a fee for the change, White said.

New York-based JetBlue normally operates about 600 flights a day to various destinations in the United States, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

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The Associated Press was used in compiling this report.

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