Weary Travelers Sick of Living in Airports

Officials rolling out discounts, showers, for struck travelers

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Stranded passengers rest on cots inside John F. Kennedy International Airport following flight disruptions due to volcanic activity in Iceland April 20, 2010 in the Queens borough of New York City. Many European flights resumed for the first time in days but chaos continued as a backlog of flights grows and London's airports remained closed.

    Bastian Drumm of Germany seems to be living a version of the Tom Hanks movie "The Terminal."

    Drumm, from the town of Ulmet, arrived in New York from the Bahamas on Monday for what should have been a quick connection to Frankfurt. On Tuesday, as the Icelandic volcano ash cloud continued to render world air travel spasmodic at best, Drumm and his friends were told they'll be stuck at John F. Kennedy Airport until April 28.

    The slightly rumpled social worker was down to his last $2 and had no credit card.

    Weary Travelers Trapped at JFK Ration Food, Count Pennies

    [NY] Weary Travelers Trapped at JFK Ration Food, Count Pennies
    It's a situation nobody could predict, and some travelers stuck at NYC airports are trying to make it through a tough situation.

    "We don't have enough money to go to a hotel. We have to stay here and wait," said Drumm. He padded around in blue socks; a red, high-topped sneaker was strewn on the cot of his home away from home, terminal 4.

    To while away the time, he played Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix on his iPod and walked from terminal to terminal, he said, determined to remain upbeat.

    Others found that more difficult. Mercedes Elahcene broke down in tears as she waited with her husband and two young daughters in terminal 8.

    Jimmy Elahcene rushed over, put his arm around her and kissed her head. The family was trying to get back to Marseilles, France, after a first-time visit to New York City. They had been scheduled to leave on Saturday.

    "We don't know when we are going back to France," the 36-year-old bus driver said.

    They have been sleeping on cots at the airport but have run out of clean clothes. His 6- and 8-year-old daughters had only a computer game to occupy themselves.

    "They cry every night because they want to go home," Elahcene said.

    There were signs of movement, as airspace throughout northern and central Europe gradually reopened Tuesday and travelers stranded overseas started to come back to the United States.

    Ami Sy came home to New York on a flight from Paris, two days after she was supposed to. The 27-year-old was visibly exhausted as she made her way through Kennedy. She had to check the calendar on her cell phone to recall the dates of her trip.

    "I'm exhausted but I'm grateful because I had a chance to get here," she said. "There are so many people stranded."

    The first things she planned to do at home were hug her 2-year-old daughter and take a shower.

    Meanwhile, Ike Aneke returned to home New York four days after he was scheduled to. After leaving Nigeria, he got stranded in Frankfurt, where he spent a night in the airport before moving to a hotel.

    "I'm tired and stressed out," the 42-year-old Staten Island resident said. And his travel troubles were not quite over — he had to stand in line at Kennedy because his luggage had been lost.

    NYC and Co. has set up a website dedicated to discounts and free events stranded passengers can take advantage of, such as Broadway tickets, museums and restaurants.

    Some events were affected by the flight disruptions.

    Organizers of the Tribeca Film Festival say some directors and actors may not make it to New York. The festival starts Wednesday.

    One family, the Jordans of England, were looking at a ten-day wait at the Newark Airport before being rescued by good Samaritans who saw their story on NBCNewYork's 11 p.m. news Sunday night.