Flight cancellations prevent students from returning to Northwestern

Three cancelled flights and 51 hours later, Eli Panken finally arrived at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Panken’s original flight from New York was scheduled for Sunday, but the inclement weather prevented him from flying back to Chicago until late Tuesday night.

“I was almost disappointed to be back home because I was so ready to be back at school,” the Weinberg freshman said. “I am relieved to be back.”

Panken is among the many students who were left stranded. Some are still unable to return to campus before classes resume Wednesday. More than 3,700 flights — about one in every 10 domestic departures — were cancelled Monday morning, according to the Associated Press.

University spokesman Al Cubbage said NU took the airline delays and cancellations into account when making the decision to cancel classes Monday and Tuesday.

Weinberg junior Rachel Sibley has been unable to fly into Chicago after also having three flights cancelled. During Winter Break, she was on a family vacation in New Zealand.

Originally from Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., Sibley’s connecting flight scheduled for Jan. 2 from San Francisco to New York was cancelled due to the weather. Her rescheduled flight was also cancelled, which prompted her to go to Florida to stay with her grandparents. Because she would miss her flight from New York to Chicago, she had to book a new one from Florida, which was also cancelled.

“We boarded, and everyone was sitting on the plane when they told us the flight was cancelled, deplaned us and warned that it would be another few days before we could get into Chicago, because only six planes a day were getting in because the fuel was frozen,” Sibley said.

She is now scheduled to arrive Thursday morning.

Medill junior Katherine Dempsey, a former Daily staffer, had two of her flights from Virginia cancelled, but she was able to fly into Chicago Tuesday morning.

“I wasn’t freaking out or anything,” Dempsey said. “I’m really grateful that school is cancelled for two days. It calmed my nerves.”

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