At KCI and across the globe, Hurricane Sandy grounds thousands of flights

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - From Kansas City to Qatar, thousands of flights across the globe are grounded as Hurricane Sandy creeps closer to the east coast.

In Kansas City alone, more than a dozen flights out of Kansas City International Airport to cities like New York, Boston and Baltimore were canceled on Monday as 350-mile wide Sandy prepares to make landfall later in the day or early Tuesday.

Qatar Airways and the United Arab Emirates-based airlines Etihad and Emirates also canceled flights to the U.S. northeast. In a statement Emirates said the safety of their passengers "will not be compromised."

Back in Kansas City, Boston resident Maria Gent was supposed to fly home Sunday night.

Gent arrived at the airport five hours before her scheduled flight to Boston, which she hoped would give her enough time to hop on an earlier flight and beat Hurricane Sandy's arrival.

However, when she got to KCI, she was greeted by a glaring cancellation message.

"It looks like everything is canceled to Boston. This is frustrating," Gent said, staring at the message board.

After calling her boss, Gent tried desperately to reschedule her flight.

"I just wanted to make it early so I can be there tomorrow. Work is waiting for me, but it's just not going to be possible," she explained.

While all American Airlines flights to the east coast are canceled, the airline is operating a normal service to other parts of the country.

United Airlines grounded roughly 3,700 flights between Sunday and Wednesday, and Delta said all flights from Washington to Boston, and out of New York and Philadelphia, were canceled.

Some 50 million people from Virginia to Massachusetts are expected to feel the effect of Sandy, which is expected to land somewhere between Maryland and Pennsylvania late Monday or early Tuesday. New Jersey could bear the brunt of the Category 1 hurricane, according to a forecast map released by the National Hurricane Center.

The cost of potential wind damage alone from the hurricane could be up to $3 billion, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Kansas City Red Cross, Westar Energy and Springfield-based Convoy of Hope flew out just before the wave of cancellations.

Sherri Odell flew out from KCI Saturday as part of the Red Cross' restoration mission.
"I've got my snow boots on, got heavy clothes in the suitcase so I'm prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at us," Odell said.

Her team will be providing shelter, food and assessing any damage from Hurricane Sandy.

Airport officials said Sunday that it could be several days before they get the canceled flights up in the air, so they said it's very important to contact your airline to make sure your flight is still scheduled.

All the major airlines are offering waivers to customers who want to reschedule their flights without incurring the typical fee of up to $1,050.00. Most waivers for travel in the Northeast are only valid Monday through Wednesday.

To check your flight status at Kansas City International Airport, visit http://www.flykci.com/FlightInformation/FlightSearch/Index.htm

CNN Contributed to this Report

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