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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.