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Airlines try to get planes back in the air, Amtrak runs on modified schedule in nor’easter’s wake

“Canceled” was the most common word on flight monitors at LaGuardia Airport in New York on Friday. The situation wasn’t much better Saturday morning. (Amr Alfiky/Reuters)
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Air and rail passengers hoping to travel Saturday are encountering yet another day of cancellations and delays as the nor’ester that snarled travel Friday is being followed by residual problems in transportation hubs all across the Northeast.

Airline officials say flight operations are slowly returning to normal as they deal with the backlog of passengers from thousands of flights canceled or delayed Friday. There were more than 3,000 flights canceled and another 4,800 delayed, according to FlightAware, most with destinations or departures in the Northeast Corridor, where the nor’easter landed blows from Virginia to Maine.

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The storm also disrupted service on Amtrak’s heavily used Northeast Corridor. High winds felled trees along the electric-powered rail line between Washington and Boston on Friday, causing service disruptions and cancellations. Amtrak continued to work at getting full service back up Saturday morning, but it said service between Washington and New York was suspended until at least 9 a.m.

By 11 a.m. Amtrak said it had resumed service on modified schedules, but it warned that “significant residual delays should be expected as work continues to restore full service following Winter Storm Riley.”

While winds in the Washington area have calmed enough to allow the airports to return to normal operations, hundreds of flights were canceled Saturday morning, with most disruptions at hubs in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. On Saturday, airport officials in Washington urged travelers to check with airlines before heading to the airport.

The airlines still are working to accommodate passengers from canceled or delayed flights from Friday. In Washington, more than 300 flights were canceled Friday, but it was in New York, the East Coast’s primary transportation hub, where thousands more travelers were left stranded, with more than 1,000 flights canceled at Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports.

‘Pretty much everyone on the plane threw up’: Friday was a rough day to fly.

Many airlines waived change fees for flights for those affected. Travelers should check with their respective airlines. American, Delta, United and Southwest airlines — the four biggest carriers in the country — have flexible change policies for travel to the Northeast because of the storm.

“One thing we can’t control is the weather,” American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said.

American canceled more than 1,600 flights in the Northeast on Friday. About 24 percent of the carrier’s global operations are being affected by the storm, Feinstein said. About 270 flights had been canceled Saturday, he said.

“We anticipate some residual delays” and cancellations Saturday, he said.

United Airlines said it canceled more than 100 flights in the Northeast on Friday and was operating on a reduced schedule through the afternoon. Delta said it canceled 750 flights to and from the Northeast on Friday and that more disruptions were possible.

The storm downed trees and power lines all along the region, closing highways and bridges and snarling traffic. In Maryland, officials said that more than 500 workers were deployed Saturday for cleanup and signal restoration efforts but that it would take at least a week to get all 400 roads affected back to normal.

“The wind advisories have dropped off, we are still expecting a gusty day impacting operations and clean up efforts are focused on getting roads opened first, then clear shoulders, all with priority routes first,” the Maryland State Highway Administration said via Twitter.

Lori Aratani and Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this report.