Surprise Christmas guests and TikTok stardom: How travellers are weathering the US storm chaos

The violent storm Elliott has battered the US and grounded thousands of flights.
The violent storm Elliott has battered the US and grounded thousands of flights.   -   Copyright  Clay Leconey / Unsplash
By Rebecca Ann Hughes

The violent storm battering the US has grounded thousands of flights and caused severe delays across the country.

The tumultuous winter weather has left passengers stranded in airports or unfamiliar cities over the Christmas break.

Travel chaos continued on Monday as airlines cancelled over 2,500 flights.

But not all the stories of travel disruption have been disastrous.

How has the US storm affected travel?

Over 15,000 flights departing or arriving in the US were cancelled between Thursday and Christmas Day.

On Monday, thousands more were scrapped due to the massive winter storm - named Elliot - that is pounding the US.

Southwest Airlines was the worst hit with around 1,700 cancellations.

Stranded passengers, many of whom spent Christmas or Boxing Day in airport lounges, have taken to social media to express their frustration.

"Flight 1824 from Nashville to Burbank was canceled due to Elliot and we haven't received any rebooking!” voice actress Grey DeLisle tweeted to Southwest Airlines.

“The kids' daddy has already missed Christmas now and his luggage is lost with medication in it! Customer Service line busy. Help!"
Grey DeLise
A traveller stranded by the US winter storm

Passengers have been trying to rebook flights but are discovering they have to wait for several days.

"My brother's Southwest Airlines flight out of Philly back to El Paso was canceled today and the best they could do was [fly] out of Baltimore on Tuesday morning! Nothing anyone could do but so much travel insanity," tweeted another user named Alex Gervasi.

South Korean tourists share Christmas with NY couple

Not all the stories of the Christmas travel chaos have been tales of woe, however.

One New York couple will not forget this year’s unexpected festive guests. Alexander Campagna and his partner, living near Buffalo, were surprised to find a group of stranded South Korean tourists on their doorstep.

The party had been trying to reach Niagara Falls when their coach became stuck in the snow.

Campagna and his wife invited the 10-person group into their house to wait for the storm to pass.

As the gale raged on, the couple realised it would be a while before the party could get back on the road.

So they rummaged in the freezer and rustled up a meal of chicken and pork shoulder for their guests, who prepared delicious Korean starters.

The couple say they plan to keep in touch with their surprise Christmas crowd and hope to visit some of them when they return to South Korea.

A spontaneous journey with strangers goes viral

On the Thursday before Christmas, travellers in Tampa International Airport found their flight to Cleveland suddenly cancelled.

Four strangers began to debate options for an alternative way home, when one suggested they rent a car and drive there together.

Soon, Bridget Schuster, Greg Henry, Shobi Maynard and Abby Radcliffe were squeezed into a hire car and beginning what would become a 20-hour epic road trip home.

Schuster decided to video their progress and post updates to her TikTok. Throughout the drive, she captured the group’s escapades, from making snow angels by the roadside to slippery highways.

Her first video gained almost 10 million views.