TRINI New Yorkers planning to make the annual party pilgrimage to the Carnival this weekend have been snowed in by a monster blizzard that has hit the eastern seaboard of the United States.
Panicked travellers, many of whom have bought their costumes to play with the big bands in Port of Spain on Carnival Monday and Tuesday, are fearful they will not make it in time.
New York's JFK International Airport, from where most of the revellers plan to fly out, was closed from midday yesterday, due to severe winter storm conditions.
Caribbean Airlines (CAL) chairman Rabindra Moonan has assured passengers stranded in New York that contingency plans are in place for them to arrive in Trinidad in time for Carnival celebrations.
Moonan said the airport was expected to reopen at noon today and until then, CAL has cancelled all flights to and from New York.
"Flights between noon today and noon tomorrow are cancelled in and out of New York. But we have contingency plans in place. We will put additional flights, additional aircraft, to ensure that everybody who is booked returned home for the Carnival," he said.
Frustrated passengers took to social networking sites yesterday, venting their feelings on the airport's closure.
The passengers complained that CAL representatives were unable to give details on alternative arrangements, leaving them in a quandary.
A male passenger wrote, "How can a line staff refuse to give the name of her boss. There is one very angry customer now who has a huge following on Facebook."
A woman posted: "I am so disappointed in Caribbean Airlines right now, this weekend was one of the worst experiences ever."
Another passenger wrote, "Caribbean (Airlines) didn't have to cancel the midnight, 5.30, 7.30 and 10.30 a.m. flights on the 8th. The blizzard is hitting late Friday."
CAL responded, "Hey Guys, we're really hoping to get all of our passengers where they need to be as quickly and safely as possible."
CAL advised that passengers were allowed to make changes to flights, scheduled during the closure of the airport, without penalty.
Earlier this week, the airline stated there were many fully booked flights to Trinidad this weekend.
Carnival Wednesday and Friday were when the airline expects the heaviest passenger loads, said CAL's communications head, Clint Williams.
Moonan advised that passengers log on to social networking sites, including Facebook, and the airline's website, for hourly updates.
"But I want to tell all our passengers to rest assured. As soon as the airport reopens tomorrow, we are putting additional flights to bring everybody back home," he said.
CAL operated three flights—BW010, BW501 and BW521—before the anticipated closure of the JFK International Airport yesterday. See Page 23