Reagan National Airport reopened its main runway Thursday at 5:05 p.m. after working for hours to dig out from the storm that buried the Washington region.
Dulles International Airport reopened one of its runways shortly after 12:30 Thursday, but it is likely to be a long time before flights are back to normal.
Air travel has been a nightmarish experience for many passengers over the last two days, with hundreds of flights cancelled in the Washington area — and more than 6,700 flights canceled nationwide — on Thursday alone.
The Post’s Debbi Wilgoren filed this dispatch from Reagan National shortly before the first flight took off:
Gate 28 at National Airport’s main terminal was crowded at 4:30 Thursday, but just about every other gate in sight was totally deserted.
American Airlines Flight 1575 was the only one to Chicago that had not been canceled. Gate attendants told the passengers the airport was set to open a runway at 5 pm, and the flight, scheduled for 5:20, might just leave on time.
When the flight crew arrived about an hour before the scheduled departure, the passengers started to cheer.
Many of those at the gate were hunched over laptops or smartphones, trying to book seats after having their original flights canceled. Others were speaking in quiet, urgent tones with gate attendants, asking whether they were likely to land a coveted standby seat on Flight 1575.
Among the luckier ones were Terri Grimes, of Freeport, Ill., and Matt Bordner, of the tiny town of Dakota, Ill., population 500. Grimes, an official at Highland Community College and Bordner, a sophomore there, had come to Washington for a conference of the Association of Community College Trustees. It was Bordner’s first trip to Washington, and first time on an airplane.
Terri Grimes, of Freeport, Ill., and Matt Bordner, of the town of Dakota, Ill., population 500. (Courtesy Isaac Silber)
Because of the weather, they arrived at the airport hours early on Thursday, and watched the electronic boards nervously as flight after flight was delayed or canceled.
“It’s crazy to see all the cancellations, and then ours is the only one on schedule,” said Bordner, 19.