Passengers still waiting for bags from JFK meltdown

- A slew of problems at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport that caused days of cancellations is still not over for some passengers.  They are still waiting to be reunited with their luggage more than a week later.

An estimated 10,000 pieces of luggage were affected by the fiasco.  A few days later an estimated 5,000 bags were still sitting at the airport.

Now, more than a week later, the number of affected bags is unknown but passengers waiting for their bags are getting frustrated by the lack of communication.

"I honestly just want more communication," Delta passenger Michael Torres of Waterbury, Conn. says.  "The fact that no one knows anything is like 'why?'.  I just want my things."

Delta issued a statement to Fox 5 News stating:  "At New York-JFK, the airline continues to make progress in reunited customers affected by the storm with their checked luggage after winter conditions and increased baggage volume delayed delivery to some bag claim areas."

The airport says that the responsibility is on the passengers to file missing bag claims with the airlines.

The chaos at the airport started January 4, when a winter storm hit New York amid unusually cold weather. It created what the Port Authority called a cascade of problems, as temperatures in the area were in the teens and even went down to the single digits. That led to issues with frozen equipment, which led to problems in handling luggage.

Other stresses like staff shortages contributed as well to the slowdown of operations on the ground.

Arriving international flights got backlogged, as arrival gates got clogged up. That led to some passengers waiting on their planes on the tarmac for hours before being bused to terminals, while other flights were diverted.

Cancellations and delays abounded, and as the planes tried to maneuver around each other, one clipped another outside a terminal on Saturday the 6th.

The scene got even more chaotic the next day, when a water pipe broke and sent a few inches of water into Terminal 4, forcing international arrivals to be suspended for a few hours.

Meanwhile, the baggage kept piling up.

"The series of events following the winter storm this month were completely unacceptable," said Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority. "We are committed to understanding where and why failures occurred, and making whatever changes are necessary to assure these failures never happen again."

Sen. Charles Schumer wants federal transportation officials to urge foreign airlines to work better with the operators of New York's Kennedy Airport after winter weather woes cascaded into days of cancellations and delays this month.

Schumer wrote a letter Monday to the federal Department of Transportation.

The Senate Democratic leader notes that the department issues documents allowing foreign airlines to operate in the U.S. He suggests that it "utilize that leverage" to encourage foreign carriers to "develop more meaningful communication systems and contingency plans" with Kennedy's governmental and private operators.

The recent problems were centered in terminals that handle international flights.

The department has no immediate response to Schumer's request.

Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is investigating the problems, at the request of the two-state agency that runs the airport.

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