Sandy cancels dozens of flights to Las Vegas, leaves tourists stranded
Hundreds of flights carrying people bound for Las Vegas were canceled Monday because of the threat of Superstorm Sandy, which began to pound the East Coast in the late afternoon.
Almost 200 flights carrying passengers headed toward Las Vegas nonstop or via connection were grounded from Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., with dozens more canceled in New York and Philadelphia, according to Flight Aware, an online airline tracking site.
The total number of canceled flights nationally could reach 14,000 by today, according to estimates. The storm began to hit land around 5 p.m. PST Monday.
By 5 a.m., airport officials counted 30 canceled flights scheduled to arrive at McCarran.
"That's just going to compound throughout the day," said Christine Crews, public information administrator for the airport.
The cancellations also meant that people hoping to return east were stranded in Las Vegas.
"We're telling everyone to check the status of their flight," Crews said. "It's very possible if the plane didn't get here from the East Coast, people are going to have problems getting to their planned destinations."
Crews said few people were stranded at the airport.
"Our airport is not removed from the city's center, so you don't have people camping out," she said. "They can easily go back to the Strip."
Las Vegas' hotel companies, meanwhile, were still trying to assess the impact of the storm.
"It's too early to determine what the impact on us may be from the flight cancellations," Caesars spokesman Gary Thompson said.
Although a significant number of tourists won't arrive to Las Vegas as planned, stranded tourists may end up staying a few extra days.
"We definitely don't have a shortage of hotel rooms, and you can definitely find something to do here to entertain yourself," Crews said.
By midday, MGM Resorts International reported only a few dozen requests from visitors wanting to extend their hotel stays. The company also said there has been a low number of cancelled reservations.
“It’s likely that many people who have planned flights to Las Vegas this week are still in the wait-and-see mode,” spokeswoman Yvette Monet said.
The Specialty Equipment Marketing Association Show, an auto products trade show that's one of the city’s largest conventions, is set to begin Tuesday. But many of the 130,000 people expected already have arrived or are driving from west coast locations.