msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 1/12/2011 7:09:07 PM ET 2011-01-13T00:09:07

For more than a year, Angela Schrock and her husband, Jeff, have been planning a trip to the Dominican Republic to see some good friends tie the knot. The couple’s travel troubles began Monday when their flight into Atlanta was canceled. After days of flight cancellations, frustrations and a needless flight to Detroit, the Schrocks, along with 22 other wedding guests, won’t make it for the big day. “We are exhausted, angry and very disappointed that we can’t be with our friends,” Angela Schrock said.

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Kelli Vermaat, 23, was forced to cancel a trip to visit her grandparents in Gainesville, Ga., first because she couldn't get into Atlanta, then because snow found her departure city, Philadelphia. "I never thought I would say this, but I am officially sick of snow!"

Toni-Ann Smith, a student at Randolph Macon College, and 40 others were all set to fly to Brazil for a two-week travel course they have planned for more than a year, but snow canceled their flights into Atlanta. The next flight that can accommodate the large group won't be until next month, she was told. “This has ruined my whole month.” she said. “It is very disappointing.”

The snowstorm that slammed the deep South and churned its way into the Northeast is causing similar headaches for all kinds of travelers.

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Airlines canceled more than 3,000 flights on Wednesday, mostly in the snowy Northeast, but they said travelers won't be stuck for days as they were after a Christmas weekend storm.

It will be easier to put stranded passengers on later flights, which aren't as full as they were during the holidays, according to the airlines.

Travelers affected by a canceled flight shouldn’t have problems rebooking. "Airlines are being very lenient with rescheduling," said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com.

Some, including United and Continental, automatically rebooked passengers on the next open flight, said Megan McCarthy, a spokeswoman for those two airlines.

Travel in and out of New York, the nation's busiest airspace, was very limited until Wednesday afternoon. Officials at the region's three major airports said more than 1,700 flights were canceled, or about half the number that usually fly from there.

Slideshow: Snow blankets East coast (on this page)
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New York accounted for half the nation's 3,400 cancellations, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. By late in the day flights were picking up at New York's LaGuardia, and airlines were even talking of adding extra planes to help stranded passengers.

American and Southwest canceled all flights into Boston's Logan Airport until Wednesday night.

The ripple effect from weather problems spread across the country. At San Francisco International, most morning flights to the East Coast were halted. This week's mess in Atlanta snarled air service out of Minneapolis, where Atlanta-based Delta carries nearly 80 percent of passenger traffic.

"We had a couple of days when very few flights were able to make it to or from Atlanta," said Minneapolis airport spokesman Patrick Hogan. "It's been a tough week for flying anywhere to or from the East Coast."

Delta expected to operate about 85 percent of its Atlanta schedule Wednesday. That counted as progress, coming two days after snow shut down Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport.

Continental Airlines, which has a hub in Newark, N.J., canceled 485 flights, and United Airlines dropped 180. Southwest scrubbed 231 flights — everything before 5 p.m. into Boston, Manchester, N.H., Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn. The Hartford airport was open but closed periodically to clear snow from the main runway.

"Airlines will continue to pre-emptively cancel flights" due to the weather, Hobica predicted. "They don’t want to be stuck with 3-hour tarmac rule [violations]. One way to avoid them is by canceling."

The cancellations might not be a bad thing for travelers, Hobica added. "Rather than sleeping on an airport floor, sleep in your own bed."

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AirTran told customers that because of the heavy call volume, they should rebook themselves on the company's website.

Delta said it was seeing high call volumes and had increased staffing and hours as a result. It also encouraged travelers to use delta.com for rebooking and to follow the airline on Twitter for customer assistance.

"Delta has worked to enhance our technology to empower customers to make changes to their travel plans without having to talk directly to a reservations agent," said Delta spokeswoman Susan Chan Elliott.

Delays that linger long after the snow stops falling aren't limited to the southeastern U.S. Last month, London's Heathrow Airport took nearly a week to completely recover after a few inches of snow fell. Virgin Atlantic Airways is protesting by withholding payments to airport operator BAA Ltd.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© 2013 msnbc.com

Video: South digs out of winter storm

  1. Closed captioning of: South digs out of winter storm

    >>> in the south meanwhile, where road crews often lack the most basic winter equipment to clear the roads, some dared to venture out today, but millions just stayed home. mail delivery still restricted. a lot of schools remain closed. here's something you don't see every day. the national weather service reports there is now snow on the ground in 49 of the 50 states . every state except florida. go figure.

Photos: Snow blankets the Northeast after hitting the South

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  1. A bundled up Terry Uellendahl clears snow from his cars in Albertson, N.Y., Wednesday, Jan. 12, after an overnight snowfall covered areas throughout Long Island, N.Y. (Kathy Kmonicek / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A young boy makes his way across the frozen pond in the Boston Public Gardens in Boston, Mass. on Wednesday. A snow storm passed along the east coast of the United States leaving over 15 inches in some areas, delaying travel and canceling school. (Cj Gunther / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Workers shovel snow from walkways near the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. on Wednesday. A winter storm that shut down much of the South churned up the coast Wednesday, dumping wet, heavy snow across the Northeast. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A Secret Service Police Officer holds his hat as the Marine One helicopter kicks up snow on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Jan. 12. President Obama is traveling to Tucson, Ariz. Wednesday for a memorial service for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others who were shot in a rampage that left six people dead. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A loader clears snow at New York's LaGuardia Airport on Jan. 12. New York's John F. Kennedy airport, which had 6 inches of snow, had 300 flights canceled, and LaGuardia airport saw another 650 flights canceled, officials said. (Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. People clean snow from their cars in Silver Spring, Md, on Wednesday. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A man attempts to start a snow blower during a storm in Windsor, Conn. on Wednesday. (Jessica Hill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Members of the Federyuk family shovel snow out of their driveway during a major snow storm, Jan. 12, in Greenfield, Mass. (Matthew Cavanaugh / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Some flights out of Logan International Airport in Boston are cancelled on Wednesday during a winter nor'easter storm. (Brian Snyder / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A man leaps past a snow covered bicycle while crossing a street in the Downtown Crossing in Boston on Wednesday. The Boston area is expected to receive well over a foot of snow during a day long winter storm. (Charles Krupa / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A Long Island Railroad train ticket agent checks for passengers at Manhasset in N.Y. on Jan. 12. (Shannon Stapleton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. A resident clears the end of his driveway with a snowblower along Route 1A in Walpole, Mass., on Wednesday, Jan.12. (Matt Campbell / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A pedestrian walks along a snow covered street in Albany, N.Y., on Wednesday, Jan. 12. Plows and salt spreaders hit the streets up and down the East Coast during Wednesday morning's commute as a storm that shut down much of the South churned northward and dumped several inches of wet, heavy snow. (Mike Groll / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Snow plows work to clear Route 140 as heavy snow continues to fall in Franklin, Mass., on Wednesday. A foot of snow fell during the night in the Boston area and the Northeast. (Matt Campbell / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Gloria Maroti Frazee cross country skis through fresh snow in Central Park in New York on Wednesday, Jan. 12. "I usually bicycle in the park but it's not a great day for bicycling, so skiing it is, Maroti-Frazee said. A snowstorm that caused mayhem in the South hit the Northeast overnight. (Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A plow clears snow near the entrance to Prospect Park in the borough of Brooklyn in New York on Wednesday, Jan. 12. (Peter Morgan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A man slips while crossing the street on West 72nd Street on Wednesday, Jan. 12, in New York City. The second major snowstorm of the season to hit New York City began Tuesday in the last hours of the evening. (Andrew Burton / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A lone pedestrian walks in the street to avoid accumulated snowfall on the sidewalks in the Harlem neighborhood of New York on Wednesday, Jan. 12. (Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A man wth a bike makes his way through falling snow on Tuesday, Jan. 11, in Philadelphia. (Matt Slocum / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Truckers Bill Dougherty, left, Chis Vlad, center, and Jim Plewinski walk on Interstate 285 as their trucks sit stranded for over 24 hours from a winter storm that turned the road into a sheet of ice on Tuesday, January 11 in Atlanta. (David Goldman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Dee Johnson speaks on a cell phone at the Greyhound bus terminal on Tuesday in Atlanta. More than 300 passengers who were stranded nby a winter storm at an Atlanta bus station were given sandwiches, blankets and bottled water from a nearby jail. Several other charities and local restaurants have also brought food. Some travelers tried to get some sleep in chairs or on the floor. (Mike Stewart / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Dewey Greer walks with his Siberian Husky, Harley, during an early morning snowfall Tuesday along the city park in Ashland, Kentucky. (John Flavell / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Ben Dodson, left, Lucas Wheeler, center, and Garry Nelson, right, make a snowman in front of the Parthenon on Monday in Nashville, Tenn. Parts of Tennessee received 13 inches of snow from the winter storm. The Parthenon is a full-scale replica of the original Greek structure. (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. John Cox pulls Parker Cox, left, and Chew Mobley through the snow a four-wheeler in Ed Worrell Memorial Park in Texarkana, Ark., on Monday. (Christena Dowsett / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Pedestrians cross over an icy Peachtree Street after snow carpeted Atlanta, Ga., January 10. Snow and ice covered much of the Deep South on Monday, leaving one person dead in Alabama, cutting off power to around 4,000 people in Georgia and closing countless roads, authorities said. (Tami Chappell / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Traffic crawls toward Charlotte, N.C. early Monday on snow covered roads. Sleet, ice and several inches of snow blanketed states from Louisiana to the Carolinas causing at least three deaths and leaving thousands without power. (Davie Hinshaw / Charlotte Observer via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Snow falls against the backdrop of the Georgia State Capitol on Sunday, Jan. 9, in Atlanta. (David Goldman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Davis McCool tries to catch snowflakes on his tongue while playing in the snowfall in Oxford, Miss., on Jan. 9. The snowfall in the Oxford area has caused the closing of area schools on Monday, including the University of Mississippi. (Bruce Newman / Oxford Eagle) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Cars slip and slide while trying to climb a snow-covered hill on Metropolitan Parkway in Southwest Atlanta on Jan. 9. (Ben Gray / Atlanta Journal & Constitution) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Camille Foster sleds down a small hill in her front yard in the Highland neighborhood of Shreveport, La., after a snowfall on Jan. 9. (Henrietta Wildsmith / The Shreveport Times) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Taylor Parks builds a snowman in Texarkana, Texas, Jan. 9. (Christena Dowsett / Texarkana Gazette) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Colored lights illuminate icicles that hang off the awning of a business on South Washington Street in El Dorado, Ark., on Jan. 9. A winter storm brought a wintery mix of sleet and snow to the area. (Michael Orrell / The El Dorado News-Times) Back to slideshow navigation
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Map: Cold blast

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