D/FW travelers still waiting for East Coast flights

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on December 28, 2010 at 6:55 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 28 at 11:50 PM

D/FW AIRPORT — Airlines were struggling to play catch-up on Tuesday folowing the major snowstorm that blanketed the Northeast.

American Airlines has now resumed service in and out of New York. Newark, LaGuardia and JFK airports are all open again.

But flight cancellations have topped 6,000 since the snow started, and airlines must re-book all those passengers on flights that were already nearly full during the busy holiday season.

The ripple effect of all that is disrupting air travel for many travelers in North Texas.

Leslie Kokello is one of them. The pregnant mom thought she was headed home to Philadelphia on Tuesday, but she's been waiting for a flight at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport since 5 a.m.

"Every time I try to get on to another flight, they say, 'It's full; wait for the next one,'" Kokello said.

She said even though she was repeatedly bumped, even though she has a full-fare ticket. "There's no real reason for it," she said.

Six months pregnant and desperate to get home, Kokello kept walking from gate to gate at D/FW. Her mom purchased the ticket to Philadelphia weeks ago so she could go home to have her baby.

Kokello arrived two hours early and checked her bags, but American Airlines told her she wasn't going anywhere.

American told News 8 it is aware of the situation, but it doesn't know why Kokello was bumped from her reserved seat — or why she wasn't given a voucher for another flight.

The airline said it is still trying to catch up from days of canceled flights to New York and Philadelphia, so standby seats are hard to come by.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Kokello lost out on a chance to fly standby on her fourth flight since 5 a.m. American told her she was confirmed for a flight early Wednesday morning.

On top of all this passenger angst, the top airlines are charging more for tickets.

FareCompare.com reports American and Delta launched a $20 round-trip fare increase on Monday night, while United and Continental added a $10 one-way peak travel day surcharge.

The changes occur on the same day that the price of oil soared to a 26-month high, increasing airlines' jet fuel costs.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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