LUZERNE COUNTY — Travelers across the nation are dealing with delayed and canceled flights thanks to government spending cuts. Many of the flights that take off and land in Luzerne County are connecting with bigger airports like Newark, Philadelphia, and Charlotte, and that’s where these FAA cuts are having the biggest impact.
We spent a good bit of our afternoon inside the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport where many people scrambled to re-book delayed and canceled flights.
Theodocia Englund rushes to get through airport security here at the Wilkes-Barre Scranton/International Airport. This after her flight to Charlotte has been delayed, re-routed and then canceled within hours of take-off.
“I was supposed to leave and go to Newark and I called United just to see if everything was alright, or actually if there was a better connection for me, and they told me it was canceled,” said Englund.
The sequester, or automatic federal spending cuts began causing these delays this week at airports across the U.S. Its furloughed 10 percent of air traffic controllers, leaving travelers waiting, wondering,and frustrated before take-off.
“They just moved me from United to US Air, but it`s just a little stressful you just want to get home, you want to be able to count on things and not be stuck somewhere,” said Englund.
“I`m concerned I`ll get stuck in Philly for eight hours and have to sleep on a bench. That`s no fun,” said traveler David Yasharian.
There`s now between two and four fewer air traffic controllers working in this tower each and every day, but the bigger airports are to blame mostly for the delays that travelers are seeing here.
“I think this is just another example of how Washington can`t work together to fix anything. I mean I just think it`s so tragic that now it`s effecting travel at what`s starting to be a really heavy travel time,” said traveler Christine Hischmann.
Hischmann lives in Falls Township is trying to get to San Diego, but as she walked up to the kiosk at the United Airlines ticket counter, her flight was canceled as well.
Travel agent Karen Monkonagle works in Forty Fort and says travelers need to pack their patience, and plan for longer overlays as long as this sequestration continues.
“Make a connection at least two to three hours I know it sounds like to be a long time, but it does give you the leeway in case they do delay flights or cancel flights,” said Monkonagle of Sea the World Travel.
Passengers say the best advice is to just prepare for a bumpy ride.
“If you want to fly, just fly and you just got to roll with it,” said Englund.
Most of the flight issues out of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport Tuesday were with United Airlines through Newark. According to the Newark Airport’s website, delays at security checkpoints and beyond are due to the federal budget issues, and that passengers should continue to check with their airlines for any delays.