Passengers pay price for cancelled flights hell

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The Felders spent the last days of their family vacation camping – in Newark Airport.

“I had to spend $143 on five blankets,” Shaliece Felder told the Post. “The only way we managed to secure cots was because someone saw my kids on the floor.”

The Felders’ United flight was supposed to depart Monday to Charleston, South Carolina. Instead they were caught up in flight chaos which brought misery to tens of thousands.

This week saw nearly 7,000 flight cancellations and 35,000 delays in the US, with Newark and Chicago O’Hare the worst affected.

Felder dropped $150 on just one dinner for her family of five and another $40 for coffee. Why not abandon the airport and its astronomical prices? “United was misleading us into believing that we would board the flight at some point that evening.” 

One of Shaliece Felder's children sleeping at Newark.
Shaliece Felder’s children got cots at Newark Airport, but she had to shell out $143 for blankets for the family.
Courtesy of Shaliec Felder
A flight receipt.
The Felders gave up on Newark and got an American flight from Philadelphia as the bills mounted.

Chaos inside Newark Airport.
This was the scene the Felders faced in Newark, where they stayed because United told them their flight would take off.
Courtesy of Shaliec Felder

They would still have been at Newark late Friday if they had not paid out of pocket for flights to Charleston from Philadelphia on Thursday – another $1,063.

The costs mounted all week for people who were stranded. “We ran out of Pampers and had to buy some in the airport,” said a cash-strapped Arnisha Keitt, also stuck at Newark. “It was $18 for seven diapers.”

The Keitts, who were on vacation with their 1-year-old grandson, got food vouchers from United. But most of them were for the airport in Houston, where United was trying to reroute them, not Newark where they were stuck.

“We had to share a meal because we had to use funds to make sure our grandchild ate,” said Keitt. She estimates their three-day saga cost them $2,300.

Arnisha Keitt
Arnisha Keitt was on New York for a vacation with her 1-year-old grandson.
Courtesy of Arnisha Keitt
Arnisha Keitt's grandson
But caught up in flight delays, she had to spend $18 on just seven diapers.
Courtesy of Arnisha Keitt

Arnisha Keitt
After being stuck in Newark, the Keitts gave up, took an Uber to get a new car seat, then an Uber to Baltimore and got flights to South Carolina. The total bill: More than $2,300.
Courtesy of Arnisha Keitt

That include a $780 Uber ride from Newark to Baltimore, where they were finally able to catch a flight home to South Carolina, and a $50 Uber to Walmart to buy a new $169 car seat because their luggage went missing.

They looked into renting a car, but there weren’t any available.

Event organizer Kristan Burba, of Jackson, Wyoming, was stuck in Denver for three days, while her husband got stuck in Newark.

She spent $336 on food and $412 on basic necessities, because they didn’t have their bags. “We also spent $145 on Ubers to and from our hotel – $980 for two nights – because I wasn’t having my kids sleep in an airport,” she said.

One of Kristan Burba's delayed children.
The bill for keeping Kristan Burba’s children fed, clothed and accommodated at Denver Airport was $1,873 while they endured two nights of delays.
Courtesy Kristan Burba

Down south, New Yorker Sonia Hendrix was only offered a $50 future Delta travel credit for her surprise layover in Orlando — which stretched from hours to days.

Over the course of four days she spent $925 – including $57 for a much-needed 15-minute massage at the airport’s XpresSpa and $225 on a change of clothes. She also lost out on what she estimates is $12,000 of billable hours. 

“It was a total nightmare,” she told The Post. “I felt like I was in hell – surrounded by Disney World-goers.” 

Airlines insist the worst is over and they are doing their best to get passengers on their way, with their luggage.

Sonia Hendrix with a member of Delta crew.
Sonia Hendrix managed a smile when she finally took off but her enforced stay in Orlando included $225 on new clothes.
Courtesy of Sonia Hendrix

A rep for United, which suffered the most delays and cancelations, told the Post:”Our airport customer service staff works tirelessly to deliver bags and board flights.” 

A JetBlue spokesperson said FAA-required ground stops had caused the delays and said: “We are working to get those impacted where they are going as soon as possible.”

Delta said it had only 6 canceled flights out of 4,900 scheduled on Thursday . 

One passenger said Delta had at least been generous with the Biscoff cookies. “This really nice attendant gave me three packets and I was so grateful,” said delayed passenger Kimberly Dawn Neumann.

Sheri Delaup on Amtrak.
Sheri Delaup and her husband Danny took the Amtrak from New York to New Orleans.
Courtesy Danny and Sherri Delaup
Danny Delaup on Amtrak
Their 36-hour roomette cost $1,173.20 but got them home before Jet Blue would have.
Courtesy Danny and Sherri Delaup

She had been “starving to death” and called her ordeal “torture.” A fellow passenger said they should be serving shots instead, she told The Post, adding, “I didn’t disagree!” 

Other travelers traded planes for trains. Erica Bates flew her aunt and uncle Sheri and Danny Delaup in from New Orelans for her son’s high school graduation in Westchester.

“Their JetBlue flight home to New Orleans was canceled Sunday and Monday,” Bates told the Post. “They were told they couldn’t leave until Friday.”

With no rental cars available, they opted for Amtrak. “Thirty-one hours in a roomette but they made it home!” The cost: $1173.20.

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