Travelers stranded on 'volcation' in NYC get helping hand
Marie Calfopoulos could be one of hundreds of stranded travelers bunking at Kennedy Airport. But instead of crashing on a cot and living off of vending machine snacks, the French native and her friends are staying in a Harlem resident’s guest bedroom.
“It’s incredible how nice you New Yorkers are,” said Calfopoulos, 25, stuck in Gotham for four extra days after volcanic ash shrouding Europe canceled her flight home.
Locals are scrambling to help stranded strangers, offering everything from free Mets and Guggenheim tickets to a round of drinks and good company.
“I’m lucky enough that I have one room that’s empty, so it’s turned into a dorm room for a couple days,” said Nick Corley, 49, an actor and director who read about Calfopoulos’ plight in amNewYork and set her crew up in his house. “As actors, we’re so used to traveling around and everyone being so nice, and I felt the need to return the favor.”
Corley added that many more of his friends in the Broadway community are pitching in to house travelers.
Big Apple Brits, an expat community in the city, also want the “refugees” to feel more at home. They started a Web forum for Britons to swap information about lodging and are planning a meet-up Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Times Square “for drinks and chatter.”
“If we can do something to help people who are feeling a bit hopeless, we’ve done some good,” said Louise Gale, Big Apple Brits’ co-founder.
The good deeds don’t end there:
* The Mets offered 27 tickets to French students earlier this week.
* The city’s tourism arm, NYC & Company, arranged for 15 percent off some hotels.
* Locals and visitors planned walking tours of New York on couchsurfing.org forums.
* The Guggenheim is offering free admission through Sunday for those with outdated trans-Atlantic plane tickets.
* Off-Broadway’s, “The 39 Steps” is making free tickets available for those with Icelandic passports.
* Stranded and bored designers, writers and photographers were asked to contribute to a new magazine about their woes via Twitter.
* Plans to get sandwiches to travelers sleeping at Kennedy Airport circulated Twitter.
Tripping.com, a San Francisco-based hospitality exchange to members in 75 countries, on Monday launched a page for its hosts to offer their homes after it was inundated with queries from people – including New Yorkers – asking how they can help.
“It’s been crazy,” said the site’s CEO Jen O’Neal. “People are so generous in times of crisis.”