Students stranded in tropical paradise

Tracy Usher, a Rutgers student, waits for her delayed flight in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The map displays the bad weather.By Steph Mostaccio and Olivia Tattory

Unexpected inclement weather during spring break left many students stranded either at their warm getaways or at the airport for longer than expected. Snowfall at local airports reached a maximum of nearly six inches as flights up and down the east coast were delayed and even canceled.

Sophomore Jillian Frost, who lives in Princeton, was one of those students. During her spring break trip to Miami, she endured a very different return flight than expected. After hearing about the storm back at home, she switched to an earlier flight in hopes of avoiding any travel problems.

Frost flew out of Miami at 1 p.m. on Friday instead of 8 p.m., and after spending only an hour in the air, was told her flight was now delayed and would be landing in North Carolina. Nothing could have prepared her for what she witnessed at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. According to Frost, the lines to reschedule flights were averaging nearly five hours.

“It was like a mob scene,” said Frost. “Hundreds of flights were cancelled and redirected to North Carolina. There were just hundreds of people everywhere waiting in lines.”

After spending seven and a half hours in the airport, looking for any option to get home, Frost booked a room at a local hotel and continued to look for a flight home the next day. As if she didn’t have enough problems, Frost then found out her luggage was on its way to Philadelphia without her.

The next morning, a sleep deprived and frustrated Frost headed back to the airport in hopes of finding an immediate flight home. With no luck at Charlotte Douglas International, she settled on a rental car for $200 and a 300-mile trip to Raleigh-Durham Airport.

Frost had better luck at Raleigh-Durham and was able to board a standby flight departing at 6 p.m. After finally arriving in Philadelphia, Frost encountered yet another delay — a one-and-a-half hour wait on the runway as a result of the number of planes landing because of Friday’s cancellations.

Once in baggage claim, she had no idea where to even begin looking for her luggage.

“There was random luggage and bags just thrown all over the floor,” said Frost. “You could hardly even walk. We finally found our luggage on the opposite end of the airport.”

Sophomore Deborah Ciné was another student who encountered travel problems during her spring break getaway. She was supposed to return from the Dominican Republic on Friday, March 16, but ended up landing in Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday, March 19.

Instead of flying home on Friday, she went back to her hotel and booked another room.

Ciné said the extended trip did not ruin her vacation; it only made it longer.

“I expected [the vacation] to end on Friday, so two extra days in the heat was not that bad,” she said.

One thing that did bother Ciné was riding back and forth to the airport to see if a flight home was available.

“I wish they would have told me to come on Monday because I kept going back all weekend,” she said. “It was annoying.”

Ciné ended up paying an additional $2,000 for her extended stay in the Dominican Republic.

The seven students who went to Santo Domingo with the Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) during spring break for community service at two children’s orphanages and schools were also affected by the winter storm. They were originally scheduled to return home on Saturday, March 17, but the earliest flight they could get was on Tuesday, March 20.

According to junior Joseph Lucchio, the CCM president, he and the other students were a little disappointed when they found out about the delay because they were in the mindset to go home.

But the students made the most of their extended stay. On Sunday, they relaxed at the hotel and on Monday, they
volunteered at the orphanage one last time.

All the students chose to work at the school rather than go to the beach their last day there, according to Lucchio.

“Their number one priority was to work at the school,” he said.

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