More flights canceled, some added

With major airports still closed to inbound planes, Delta Air Lines nixed 1,100 flights Sunday headed for the Eastern Seaboard, and AirTran cancelled another five.

Delta, the largest carrier serving Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, expects to scrap a total 2,200 flights, including connections, between Saturday and Monday because of Hurricane Irene. The figure represents 13 percent of all its scheduled flights in that period.

AirTran's total cancellations stand at 336. The airline, whose operations hub is out of Hartsfield-Jackson, also added some flights in an effort to start moving passengers stuck in hotel rooms and airport lobbies to cities where they'll have a shot at finding flights home, spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver said.

As the mid-Atlantic area came back on line as the tropical storm dissipated and moved northward, AirTran added seven flights Sunday and another for Monday.

Some of the added Sunday flights were from Atlanta to Newport News, Baltimore, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Montego Bay, Jamaica. The new Monday flight is from Orlando to West Palm Beach, Fla.

Though early hurricane warnings and flight cancellations prevented widespread camping in airports, some travelers have been stymied mid-trip while trying to reach the Northeast, and plenty have wound up in Atlanta, a major connection center.

The trouble: New York City's three major airports remained closed.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is expected to reopen the New York airports Monday, airline spokespersons said.

"Based on the information that we're getting this morning, it looks like tomorrow we'll be back to flying again," Graham-Weaver said. "I won't say getting back to normal, though, because it takes a few days to get back to normal after something like this."

Hartsfield-Jackson spokeswoman Katena Carvajales said she had no reports of passengers stranded at the airport. "If there are any, it's been a handful," she said.

One of them was Xavier Idrovo, trying to get home to Burlington, N.J., after a 10-day family vacation in Ecuador. With their Delta flight to Philadelphia canceled, he and his wife and children split up so they could all get flights back into the continental United States. He landed in Atlanta at 7 a.m. Sunday, while his wife, son and daughter wound up in Miami.

With a hat tipped over his eyes, he dozed in an easy chair in the airport atrium, his legs propped on his suitcase. He expected his family to land in Atlanta at 1 p.m., then they would drive a rental car the rest of the journey. The car cost $500, but he had to be back in time for work Monday, having just started a new job, and the airlines told him he'd have to wait until Tuesday for the next flight to Philadelphia.

"I don't know how much money I lost in this," Idrovo said. "I just want to get home."

Also having heartaches, a succession of Army soldiers landed at Hartsfield-Jackson on Sunday, returning from Iraq and Afghanistan for two weeks' leave. Government workers put them up in hotels, but the delays in getting home to family, after four to five days of constant travel, had many of them visibly exasperated.

Pfc. Brandon Johnpier, 18, of the 82nd Airborne Division, needed to fly on to Boston to reach his hometown of Lowell, Mass. He's getting married Sept. 4 before shipping back to Iraq.

He found an early Monday flight to Raleigh, N.C., where he can go on to Boston after a five-hour layover. He planned to shower in his complimentary room, then come right back to the airport and wait.

"In the Army, I've always lived by, hope for the best, expect for the worst," Johnpier said.