'Pretty scary': Poor air quality continues to disrupt flights nationwide

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Thursday, June 8, 2023
Poor air quality continues to disrupt flights nationwide
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FlightAware reported at least 3,000 total delays in the U.S. Thursday afternoon.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Much of the East Coast remained under serious air quality alerts on Thursday due to the Canadian wildfires, impacting thousands of flights nationwide.

FlightAware reported at least 3,000 total delays in the U.S. as of 4 p.m., with New York City airports like LaGuardia at the top of the list. Newark also experienced delays due to low visibility in the area.

"Pretty scary actually," Steven Maixner said.

Maixner was in luck en route to Newark from Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Thursday.

"We were in touch with a lot of friends who were sending us pictures and whatnot and saying it's really bad, it's really scary, bring your N95 masks which we have," Maixner said.

The number of total delays doubled at RDU Thursday afternoon, however, passengers like Kristina Vanderbrink were relieved to make it home from JFK.

"When we put up the window you couldn't even see out on the terminal," Vanderbrink said. "I lived through the Florida fires back in '99 so I know how bad it is and how bad it is for health."

The FAA lifted a ground stop for flights bound for LaGuardia but other flights were impacted by the wildfire smoke, including Philadephia.

"I could feel the difference in the air," Abigail Dillon said. "I'm asthmatic, so it was hard for me to just even maneuver through the airport."

Dillon flew in to RDU with plans to stay safe in North Carolina.

"I'm concerned for my health, I'm concerned for inhaling particles, I'm concerned for breathing, moving around," Dillon said. "We're going to stay inside as much as possible and wear our masks."

The FAA said to expect more delays, especially in the Northeast area, as they slow traffic to keep the airspace safe.

They remind passengers to check with their airlines for their flight status or airport info at fly.faa.gov.