The winter storm conditions "created a cascading series of issues for the airlines and terminal operators over the weekend", the Port Authority of NY and New Jersey, said in a statement Sunday. It was not immediately clear how many flights were cancelled. "It seemed nearly everything broke down, it seemed like a disaster".
Almost 4,000 flights had already been canceled before the weekend in anticipation of Winter Storm Grayson, which pummeled almost all of the East Coast.
Making matters worse, a water main burst and flooded a terminal Sunday.
Boston, which saw some of the heaviest snow from Thursday's storm, froze with a Sunday morning low of minus two degrees Fahrenheit (minus 19 degrees Celsius) - matching the previous January 7 record in 1896.
"The airline definitely did not do what they were supposed to do", said one angry passenger. Though there were no injuries reported on either aircraft, the accident, coupled with the effects of the weather, kicked up a storm of delays. "JFK has to follow the Boy Scouts" motto: "Be prepared.' They weren't".
Customers complained Friday and Saturday that they waited as many as six hours on the tarmac before their planes docked at a gate, and as long as eight hours to collect their baggage from carousels.
"This is, on scale of 1 to 10, this is a zero".
John F Kennedy Airport terminal flooded by burst water main in further hit for already stranded passengers
"When the flight was suspended, I literally cried", she said. "This is America, not a Third World country", Pierre said.
"I can understand: Yeah, it's a mess because of the weather".
"We were crying because we were so upset", she said. "It's simple is terminal 4 accepting inbound flights yet", @Pulido_Alvin posted exasperatingly in response. That's when a China Southern plane hit the tail of a Kuwait Airways flight, causing damage to both of the Boeing 777s. As of Monday morning, domestic and global flights are running with delays. Calmi called the collision "minor".
Flights headed to NY were forced to turn back, and connecting flights that were only supposed to bring passengers to NY for a brief stay were grounded indefinitely. "I don't envy the @XLAirways_NA staffers at the desk", user @bhsutton tweeted. The Port Authority blamed "cascading" issues that included the large numbers of holiday travellers, difficulties in baggage handling and staff shortages.
The Port Authority said in its statement Sunday that airlines "remain in recovery mode, rebooking passengers from canceled flights and reuniting passengers with their luggage".
The sudden, unplanned detouring of all of those planes set off a chain reaction that stretched to various continents and left Kennedy tied in knots for the next few days, with passengers stranded in overcrowded terminals and on planes.