Severe travel setbacks frustrate returning students stuck in ‘limbo’


Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Passenger boards a delayed Chicago-bound United flight. Students have struggled with travel delays which have hindered their ability to study for finals and disrupted their sleep.

Danny Vesurai, Reporter

HOUSTON — As a snow storm engulfs the Midwest and creates unsafe conditions for flying, students have struggled with delays that have hindered their ability to study for finals and disrupted their sleep.

Hopeful travellers across the nation were hit this weekend with flight cancellations and delays — nationwide, 1,880 flights were canceled Sunday and 5,817 were delayed, according to flight tracking data company FlightAware. As of Monday afternoon, over 2,500 flights have been canceled and over 5,000 delayed.

Medill freshman Claire Kuwana, stuck in Washington, D.C., said the hours-long delays meant she wouldn’t be able to access study materials in her dorm room and settle in for the week.

“It’s stressful to know I’m behind other students and really sleep-deprived and not ready for my finals at the end of the week,” she said.

Kuwana had a flight around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, but maintenance issues and weather conditions led to a four-hour delay. Due to a passenger issue after that delay, her flight was canceled and she booked one for Monday morning instead.

That flight was also delayed. Kuwana said she likely slept around two hours Sunday night.

Kuwana’s story echoes what several other students have faced — flights being continually delayed and some ultimately canceled. Some flights from San Francisco and Houston going into Chicago O’Hare International Airport were delayed over 11 hours.

The uncertainty surrounding departure times has compounded students’ anxiety, with some unsure whether they’ll be able to find a flight on Monday or have to wait until Tuesday. Others said they’ve already booked Tuesday flights, the earliest options after their initial flights were canceled. Some students in New York are flying out Wednesday.

“I’m just sitting at the airport waiting to hear about my flight that’s in this weird limbo,” said Weinberg freshman Kate Schlager, also delayed in Washington, D.C. “I don’t want to leave if they’re going to let us get on the plane and we’re actually going to take off.”

Despite a news release Monday morning saying Northwestern would operate its normal hours, some professors, like philosophy Prof. Kenneth Seeskin, are working to accommodate the delays. In an email to students in one of his classes, Seeskin said he would repeat the lecture he gave in class Monday later in the week.

At San Diego International Airport, a volunteer brought an emotional support dog specifically to alleviate concerns over travel delays, Medill freshman Amy Coval said. The dog, a Goldendoodle, had a blue vest that said “pet me” and performed tricks like bowing.

“It actually helped,” she said. “My fury is not as high.”

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