What to Know
- Some luggage from Air China flights to JFK Airport have popped up inside a ballroom at a nearby hotel, a worker tells NBC 4 New York
- It comes two days after images obtained to News 4 show hundreds of bags sitting in the snow under a ramp at the airport
- The Port Authority says former Obama transportation secretary Ray LaHood will lead an investigation into the airport meltdown
Some luggage left behind in the meltdown at John F. Kennedy International Airport following last week's winter storm are being housed at a nearby hotel, a hotel worker told NBC 4 New York.
New video shows the bags being stored inside a ballroom at the Hilton New York JFK Airport and a hotel worker said they were from Air China and arrived Wednesday morning.
The airline, which had about 400 bags that had not returned to passengers on Thursday, hasn't responded to requests for comment.
At the height of the JFK baggage disaster, tens of thousands of bags had been separated from their owners, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
The number had dwindled to 5,000 by Wednesday afternoon, but dozens of frustrated travelers were continuing to contact News 4 Thursday about their missing luggage. The station reported exclusively that there were dozens -- possibly hundreds -- of bags still piled underneath a terminal ramp Tuesday, alongside the snow.
"They keep telling me, 'We found your bag,' when they clearly did not," said NYU student Michelle Tsai, who's been unable to study for her math final without the textbooks lost in her luggage.
"I've never lost a bag that took more than an hour. Usually, it's, 'It got on the truck, we're going to bring it over,'" she said. "It's never been, 'It's lost into the ether.'"
"Today is Thursday, and I still do not have my luggage," said Deborah Serri, estimating she spent four hours on hold with Delta this week. Delta had said Wednesday that it is "delivering bags to customers and expects to return its baggage operation to normal levels [Wednesday night]."
Other Delta passengers are baffled by the airline's online messages supposedly tracking the luggage. One flier got a message from Delta with a timeline showing the bag had been checked on Jan. 6, then listed as expedited for return on Jan. 8, 9 and 11. It still wasn't back by Thursday.
Delta hasn't responded to News 4's questions as to why so many people are still waiting for bags. Workers at a delivery company called BEX, which is contracted by Delta to return luggage, did not want to speak to News 4 when reporters showed up at the Queens location Wednesday and found hundreds of suitcases sitting in the yard.
Joshua Carlani, part of a group from the College of New Jersey delivering supplies to children in Ghana, is still awaiting the supplies, donated by organizations.
"Everything went wrong that possibly could," he told News 4 from overseas.
The terminals at JFK have made progress in clearing out the luggage from the airport, at least: by Thursday evening Terminal 1 had just over 260 bags (mostly from Air China, some from Turkish Air), compared to its height of 1,000. And at Terminal 4, all 4,000 bags had been processed and removed.
JetBlue, which operates out of Terminal 5 at JFK, says it wasn't impacted to the same degree as other terminals; there were about 100 bags being held for pickup or delivery on Wednesday, and another 60 from international partner carriers at JFK.
The Port Authority of New York/New Jersey, which oversees operations at all three area airports, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that it "shared the public's outrage and has directed the airlines to have all bags out of JFK and on their way to customers by day's end."
"This unacceptable delay has inconvenienced too many travelers and we continue to work with the airlines to aggressively address the situation and provide assistance as needed," the Port Authority added.
The agency later announced it had tapped former Obama transportation secretary Ray LaHood to lead an investigation into how it the fiasco happened at JFK, and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. That investigation will begin next week; however, the findings could be months away.
The airport debacle started Thursday, when a powerful winter storm hit New York amid unusually cold weather and forced the airport to close for the day. When it reopened on Friday, some terminal gates got tied up and led to a backlog of international flights trying to get in and out. Temperatures in the low teens also impacted equipment.
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