Travelers at JFK Airport were getting snow where fast Saturday.
Two days after the last flake fell, JFK was reeling from the first snowstorm of 2018 with equipment malfunctions, dozens of delayed flights and scores of unhappy customers.
“We’ve been here since 8 a.m., and our flight keeps getting pushed back,” Leah Golubchick told the Daily News Saturday. “At first they said the baggage machine was frozen, so they were unable to take the bags off the plane. Now they said that the plane is snowed in at the hangar!”
“How is 6 inches of snow enough to block a hangar?” the 31-year-old Brooklyn resident asked. “The flight crew and pilots are all here. They’ve been joking about grabbing shovels to help dig the plane out.”
Golubchick’s travel problems began Thursday, when the storm forced her original Delta Airlines flight to Denver to be cancelled. She was ultimately put on Saturday’s flight — but the plane didn’t budge.
“They’re not even announcing the delays anymore,” she said. “They’re just putting it up on the screen.”
A Delta spokeswoman said Saturday night no additional flight cancellations were expected, and crews were focused on reunited passengers with their luggage.
Kenneth Watson, an Army vet and graduate student from St. Cloud, Minn., showed up early for his 10:30 a.m. flight on Sun Country Airlines to Minneapolis. He left the airport seven hours later — but he wasn’t flying.
“I checked the board and it said it was going to be delayed, and then it was just canceled,” Watson, 38, said. “No one told us anything. There was so much chaos. There were probably tens of thousands of people. It was like I was in a basketball arena.”
Ryan Harrison and his family were all set to return home to Johannesburg when their flight was unexpectedly canceled.
“The woman in the ticketing station just closed up,” Harrison said. “She just refused to help us and put up a sign that said she would open up 10 a.m. tomorrow.
“When we asked her where we are going to sleep, she said, ‘On the floor. I don’t care,’” Harrison said bitterly as he tried to rent a car to Atlantic City, hoping to score a flight there.
Travel woes continued through Saturday night, with Port Authority and NYPD officers being dispatched to break up a “disturbance” in Terminal 4 over a canceled flight, according to Virgin Atlantic.
“We are sharing a gate with another airline, and they have just cancelled their flight, causing the disturbance and the police being called,” the airline tweeted just after midnight. “Our flight is operating and our teams are now moving our customers through the gate so they can board our aircraft.”
Passenger Jeremy Silver described the late-night madness at gate B23 as a “near riot” as passengers learned of their canceled flight on Excell Airways as others were funneled through the gate.
“It seems as if some punches were thrown as people jostled,” Silver said. “The crowd went nuts booing and shouting.”
Silver boarded a bus with fellow Virgin flyers bound for London, leaving behind traveled stranded by the nixed Excell Airways flight.
“Never seen anything like this level of chaos,” Silver added.
Ian Parra, 36, of Manhattan, was on his honeymoon in Dubai when his troubles started.
“I paid $10,000 for two business class tickets,” Parra said. “It was delayed for over 24 hours. They are totally unprepared for something they should have seen coming.”
In one terminal, fed-up travelers took it upon themselves to organize and make room on a clogged carousel in the domestic baggage claim after waiting for their luggage for more than an hour.
The chute frequently stopped with a scattering of belongings on it. There were no airport workers around to clear unclaimed bags after a slew of red-eye flights landed Saturday morning.
Several travelers took to Twitter, outraged that their flights have been delayed or that they’ve been left on the tarmac for hours after landing.
“Landed almost 4 hours back,” Derek Yach tweeted. “May deplane into buses but many planes are trapped unable to do so. We have no idea how long.”
Imogen Caird, who flew into the airport from Argentina, agreed.
“#JFK is an EMBARRASSMENT,” she tweeted. “(Five) hours in the airport with no information regarding the status of our bags. There are pregnant women, babies and children on this flight. There is no toilet, food or water available. Disgraceful.”
After being shut down for nearly a day as 8 inches of snow covered the airport, JFK reopened at 7 a.m. Friday.
It didn’t take long for the problems to pile up.
But Kennedy was alone in its misery.
Airport traffic was running smoothly at LaGuardia Airport Saturday, according to sources.
The only problem at Newark Liberty International Airport was the AirTrain, which went out of service Saturday. Nine people had to be evacuated from a stalled train, but no injuries were reported.
Port Authority sources said most of the trouble was at the International terminal and also at Terminal 4.
Airline companies at the terminals were slow in alerting airport personnel that their gates were getting backed up, causing many of the delays, the sources said.
Because arriving flights weren’t reaching their gates, luggage had to be offloaded by hand miles from the terminals, creating more delays and a sea of luggage as far as the eye could see.
Several luggage carousels were also left inoperable by the freezing temperatures, travelers said.
An airport spokesman said Saturday a plan was underway to divert international flights from JFK in the short term as crews try to catch up with current arrivals.
“The Port Authority is working diligently with the FAA, airlines, and individual terminal operators to limit the arrival of flights into JFK Airport, until there are adequate gates available to handle the backlog of flights due to recovery of flight schedules in the wake of Thursday’s storm,” the spokesman said in a statement.
The Port Authority also blamed the “continued bitter cold” for “severely disabled equipment” which contributed to delays.
With Nicole Hensley