Sunday, March 01, 2009

Snow-Choked Air Travel System in the Next Few Days: 'Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here'

[Photos: What Hath Skype Wrought?]

Please do not hate me for saying that I have postponed my trip back east from Tucson on Tuesday, and that it was in the high 80 degrees and (of course) sunny today in Tucson and will remain that way all week. My wife, who is very, very kind, said she was delighted I could stay out in the desert and avoid the mess while she and the parrots battened down the hatches back east. We communicate by Skype and the African grey is already saying, "It's snowing, woooooooooo."

Above are screen grabs of tonight's videoconference call between East and West, showing Rosie the African grey, who despises snow and rain, and Petey the blue & gold macaw (a rescue, by the way) who looooves all commotion, including meteorological.

No way am I entering the air travel system on Tuesday, when it will still be staggered by, and struggling to recover from, the effects of a big eastern snowstorm.

How bad is it already?

Well, as of 9 p.m. ET, there were over 1,400 flights canceled at Atlanta Maynard/Maynard G. Krebs/Stonewall/Andrew/Jesse Jackson Harry/Huntingdon Hartsfield Tri-State Support Our Troops Memorial International Airport (or whatever the hell they call the world's busiest airport these day; every time I look they have a different permutation of the name -- like one of those streets in Manhattan where they stick up commemorative faux street names like "Ed Sullivan Way" to confuse the sensible literal Germans and other tourists who are actually looking for, like, 52nd Street, and actually believe that, since Roman times, one of the basic civic responsibilities is to name your roads intelligibly).

And do not get me or any New Yorker started on the idiotically named "Avenue of the Americas," which absolutely no one in New York ever calls that except the poor hands-tied post office and stationery printers. How many innocent out-of-towners have been totally reasonably confounded by that?

But I digress, and why not? It's apparently snowing like hell. But not here!

By the way, I love how local papers don't get it why no one pays much attention to them. Hey Marge, we seem to be up to our asses in in snow and we got to get to the airport! Lordy, what's the paper's Web site say? Well, here is the current top headline online in the Atlanta paper Web site: "Hunger Walk/Run a Casualty of Snow."

Meanwhile, a lower-played smaller story about power outages caused by the storm allows as how "hundreds of flights" were canceled, as if it would be too low-tech for someone to go to a reliable source like and actually count the canceled arrivals and departures. Lordy, we'd have to pull the reporter off the charity walk-a-thon to do that kind of work! Lordy, we already got the press releases on the walk-a-thon!

Farther up the coast, where the southern storm is fixing to hook up with a northern storm and become a thumper of a nor'easter overnight, at the hilariously named Newark Liberty International Airport (Slogan: 'You Want Freedom Fries With That?'), about 220 flights had already been canceled by 9 p.m. More are piling up for tomorrow.

Come tomorrow, preemptive flight cancellations will be affecting travelers all over the country. Not just delays, but flat-out cancellations.

Tomorrow, as regards the air-transport system east of the Mississippi: "Abandon all hope ye who enter here." {And for copy editors, the "all" is in the place Dante put it, quite deliberately.}


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