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Massive snow storm snarls U.S. airlines, passengers

Planes wait to take off from O'Hare International Airport February 3, 2011 after a blizzard forced the grounding of almost all planes Tuesday afternoon. This weekend, an even bigger snowstorm is expected to hit parts of the East Coast. Airlines have preemptively cancelled close to 5,000 flights in anticipation.

Flightaware, an aviation industry website, says the number of flights cancelled in the United States because of the massive East Coast snow storm is near 5,000 -- and could go higher. That means changed plans and possible airport sleep-overs for thousands of passengers who've been inconvenienced.

But it's not just about passengers. Sara Keagle is a flight attendant based in Houston, and also blogs about the professionn at the TheFlyingPinto.

"For the most part, if you're just sitting there without being on the aircraft and the door closed, then you're not getting paid," said Keagle. "However, if your flight cancels, then you could be in luck and you could be pay-protected."

Otherwise, Keagle says flight attendants dread delays just like passengers.

"The worst scenario is just the same as the passengers," she added. "Being stuck on board with the door closed and not enough amenities for everybody. You know, luckily there's been some laws put into place to protect the passengers, which also protects us. We don't really want to be stuck on there either."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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