Boris Tsang / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Cornellians walk up the slope carrying sleds on Jan. 20, 2019.

January 20, 2019

Canceled Flights and Impromptu Housing: Winter Storm Frustrates Students’ Travel Plans to Cornell

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While some students traversed campus in snow boots, sleds and skis, other Cornellians scrambled to secure last-minute lodging or alternative travel arrangements.

“It’s kind of a shit show,” Ben Inbar ’21 told The Sun. Inbar originally intended to take a Coach USA Shortline bus from New York City to Ithaca on Sunday morning. After the operators canceled all buses departing after noon on Saturday, he had to delay his arrival on-campus until Monday or even Tuesday morning.

Ryan Lombardi, vice president of student and campus life, urged students to prioritize safety in their travels in an email announcement, stressing that “faculty are aware that flexibility may be necessary on Tuesday,” the day spring semester classes begin. However, Inbar worried that this flexibility may be lacking in one of his courses.

“It’s gonna be a madhouse at Port Authority [bus terminal on] Monday … I’m going to have to get there way early or risk not getting a seat on a bus,” Inbar lamented. “I have a class Tuesday that takes attendance and has a reading due so I really don’t want to miss that first class either.”

Other Cornell students have been more lucky, however. After the bus cancellations left some Singaporean Cornellians stranded in New York City, their compatriots at New York University and Columbia University came to their rescue, offering housing in their dorms and apartments.

“We didn’t want our friends traveling with the weather conditions, so we got another way for them to be safe,” said Helen Tan ’21, events coordinator of Cornell’s Singapore Student Association.”  “[The Singapore Student Associations at] Columbia and NYU were really great and supportive, which all of us appreciate.”

Four of the five marooned Singaporeans contacted by SSA were able to find housing elsewhere in the city. The fifth student postponed her plane ride to New York until Monday.

Nicholas Hansen ’20 also proactively postponed his Syracuse-bound flight to Monday, taking advantage of the flight change fee waiver offered by most airlines. When he woke up the day after the switch, his original flight was canceled, and all alternative flights were booked through Monday.

“I should be able to [get to class] if things are cleared up by Monday,” Hansen said.

However, others have given up on arriving on campus before classes begin. Amy You ’22 found that the bottleneck in her travels from L.A. to Ithaca was not the airplanes, but Cornell’s Bus Services, which canceled the Syracuse to Cornell bus route this weekend. Governor Andrew Cuomo banned all buses from most highways from Saturday at 3 p.m. to the end of the storm.

“Hilariously, my biggest problem wasn’t air travel, but ground travel by bus,” You said. “Now I’m arriving Tuesday at around noon and taking the bus. Hopefully I’ll be on campus by 1 or 2 p.m., but unfortunately I’ll end up missing the first day of class.”

Despite the unusual weather disruption, Inbar said that travel troubles for return trips to Ithaca is nothing new. “Honestly I’ve never had a simple trip back to Cornell.”