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Fri, Mar 16, 2007

Airlines Cancel Flights Ahead Of Northeast Snow Storm

All Eyes On JetBlue's Reaction

Once bitten, twice shy. Seeking to avoid a repeat of this winter's tales of stranded passengers and scheduling nightmares, on Friday low-cost carrier JetBlue cancelled 215 of its flights -- about one-third of its entire schedule -- ahead of a winter storm on the East Coast.

They had some company -- as American, Northwest, and Delta also cancelled significant numbers of their flights out of New York's John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia, Newark International, and Boston's Logan International Airport.

"We began proactively canceling flights yesterday, which is pretty standard procedure for us in advance of significant wintry weather like this," Delta spokeswoman Gina Laughlin told The Associated Press.

While few airlines escaped the need to cancel flights, most of the emphasis was on JetBlue's reaction to the impending storm. Memories of the carrier's handling of a Valentine's Day winter storm crisis last month are still fresh on the minds of many travelers.

"We've always tried to take a wait-and-see approach with the weather ... believing that people want to get to their destination late, rather than never," JetBlue spokesman Sebastian White said. The subsequent breakdown in the airline's schedule resulted in "a shift in thinking," White added.

"We're hopeful the plans we have in place will be effective and allow us to recover quickly," he said Friday morning.

The cancellations came as the National Weather Service forecast up to six inches of sleet and snow around New York, meteorologist Pete Wichrowksi told the AP. The storm was expected to pass by the weekend.



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