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Angie Crouch, Bobbie Eng
Dozens of flights were canceled Wednesday as white-out conditions hit Northeast airports. The airport saw long lines and frustrated travelers, while many airlines encouraged passengers to rebook flights at no cost. Angie Crouch reports from LAX for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Nov. 7, 2012.
Air travel to and from the New York and New Jersey area still had not returned to normal on Thursday. FlightAware reported that nearly 700 flights were canceled Thursday, including 22 at SFO.
The reason for the cancelations is another major storm that is pummeling the Northeast. Things appeared to be getting back to normal later Thursday at Bay Area airports.
It comes a week after superstorm Sandy caused major destruction, flooding and loss of power in New York and New Jersey, the new storm was set to repeat some of the same problems.
Last week, more than 20,000 flights were canceled because of the downgraded Hurricane Sandy, making it the second-most disruptive storm in the past seven years.
More airport chaos promised to come from the current storm, dubbed "Athena" by The Weather Channel (a name that was reportedly rejected by the National Weather Service in an internal email).
A strengthening storm moving up the East Coast with snow, sleet, rain and wind gusts as high as 60 mph, Athena is expected to spread across the still stricken region through Thursday.
As of 6 p.m. Pacific Wednesday, 1,680 flights had been canceled for the day, according to online flight tracker FlightAware. About 400 flights had been canceled for Thursday.
Ron and Pat Fabiano were vacationing on a cruise when Sandy hit. Now they're stuck in line at LAX looking at pictures of their flooded home in New Jersey. They're worried looters might get there before they do.
"It ruined the whole cruise that we were on, knowing that we had damage at home," Ron Fabiano said. "Now we're here, and we can't get a flight out of here. I'm never going away in October again."
By afternoon Wednesday on the East Coast, white-out conditions had developed in the New York area, with blowing snow and fog, limiting visibility.
Making matters worse, Sandy damaged some navigational aids at New York's airports. It wasn't clear if those systems, which are critical to safe takeoffs and landings in bad weather, had been completely fixed.
United and American airlines suspended operations in the region, and warned that future cancelations and delays could be a result of the storm.
Most other airlines, including Delta and JetBlue, are asking passengers to reschedule Northeast flights to a later date and are waiving the usual change fees of up to $150.
JetBlue, which is the biggest domestic airline at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, said its operations had just gotten back to normal Monday after Sandy.
Airlines are quick to cancel flights ahead of major storms to avoid stranding aircraft and crews, and doing so lessens storm-related financial losses.
Many trips were canceled before the first snowflake fell Wednesday.