Flights canceled, fans stranded after Super Bowl

Staff writerFebruary 3, 2014 

— A canceled flight didn’t faze Kurt Kuykendall and his 11-year-old son, Kanden.

The pair, originally from Renton but now living in Little Rock, Ark., waited Monday night for their first meal since watching the Seattle Seahawks win their first Super Bowl title the night before. 

“I could be stuck here a month and nothing could dampen my spirit,” Kurt Kuykendall said. “No matter what happens, I can’t hear bad news.”

There was a fair amount of that for travelers after snowfall started early Monday and continued throughout the day in New York, causing traffic jams and flight cancellations for Seahawks fans trying to get home after the team’s big win. Counters at the American Airlines counter at LaGuardia Airport had winding lines nearly out the door as travelers tried booking other flights back to the West Coast.

Football fans had been surprised Sunday when an anticipated cold-weather Super Bowl was played on the warmest day of the last several weeks in the New York-New Jersey region. The temperature at game time hovered around 50 degrees, which was balmy compared to many nights earlier in the week when lows were in single digits.

Instead, Mother Nature saved the snow for a special post-game show.

By Monday afternoon, roughly 3 inches of snow had accumulated outside the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel, where The News Tribune set up shop following a flight cancellation. Shuttles dropped off an influx of new guests waiting for the weather to clear and flights to get back on schedule.

Servers at the Empire Lounge at the LaGuardia Airport Marriott across the street struggled to fill orders and wait on the unexpected guests who flooded the restaurant. To relieve the lone bartender and single server, a human resources employee helped bus the tables, which were all full.

The Kuykendalls learned after checking their bags that their flight back home had been canceled. They were staying overnight at the LaGuardia Plaza with little more than their Seahawks gear until Tuesday. They did buy swimming shorts to take advantage of the downtime.

“We’re going to sit in the hot tub and make the best of it,” Kurt Kuykendall joked.

Kanden still wore faded blue and green face paint from the night before. He had planned to show it off at school on Tuesday.

The delay didn’t change anything. He still plans to show it off – but on Wednesday, if all goes as planned.

How could he not after a game like Sunday’s?

“It was our first Super Bowl,” Kurt Kuykendall said. “Definitely a memorable one.”

Kari Plog: 253-597-8682

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