CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — After the Buffalo Niagara International Airport had been closed since Friday due to the blizzard, it reopened on Wednesday, but only a handful of flights went in and out.
“We checked everyday. Even this morning at noon I think it was, we were like let’s check the airport and make sure it’s open,” Jaclynn Pajak, who was traveling to Southern California, told News 4. “We’re a little more concerned about are we going to make it to our layover and make it out of there as well and make it home tonight or will we be sleeping somewhere besides Buffalo.”
The airport was originally slated to reopen on Tuesday, but officials on Monday pushed the reopening date back a day. This was because Transit Police and airport fire crews were on the frontlines of storm response, helping with search and rescue efforts on the roads.
Over half of the flights in and out of the airport were canceled on Wednesday and several flights for Thursday morning have already been canceled. The NFTA says that the delays are caused by a nationwide backlog. That includes Southwest Airlines, which has seen heat in the past several days as over 60% of the airline’s flights nationwide were canceled on Tuesday.
“I wasn’t able to get a flight until Saturday until I checked again and I was able to get one today. It was really hectic and crazy, but I’m just glad it worked out well in the long run,” Ben Johnson, who is flying to Illinois, continued.
This week’s flight chaos was caused by several delays and cancellations before the storm. Matthew Cremins and Laura Bustamante were traveling back to Chicago Wednesday, after just 36 hours in Buffalo to see family for the holidays. Their flight plans were canceled last week due to the storm.
“My flight was delayed a bunch and her flights were canceled and we had to reschedule our flights. It was a mess,” Cremins explained.
Passengers were still nervous to get out after the airport re-opened because many flights were canceled.
“I was a little nervous. I mean there wasn’t a whole lot I could do, but hope and pray that it opens and that we are able to get out,” Spencer Johnson, who is traveling to Salt Lake City, continued.
However, airport officials say that they don’t control the airlines. Travelers say that ticket prices have also been skyrocketing. Some of them have been stuck at the airport since last Thursday.
“If you think about it, people have families, people have kids, and they’re just trying to get back or try to get where they’re going. And if you have four people in a family, people can’t, I can’t afford. It’s outrageous, they got to do something about that,” said traveler Alex Elliott, who has been attempting to fly home to Denver.
The airport says it hopes to get back to normal operations by the end of the week. Meanwhile, they encourage travelers going in and out of Buffalo to check with their airline to make sure that their flight is still flying and is on time.
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Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.