CES 2014, the massive annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, could not have gotten off to a worse start as ripple effects from a New Year’s snowstorm in the Northeast combined with a cold snap in Chicago cancelled thousands of flights nationwide.
On Sunday afternoon, as Business Insider’s team touched down at McCarran airport, the baggage claim hall and the taxi ranks were filled with people talking about how they should have arrived on Saturday, and of colleagues who might not make it to the conference until midweek.
The hurt will be felt most keenly by Samsung, which is hosting a huge new-product keynote event Monday night at Mandalay Bay. CES attracts thousands of tech and business journalists, many from the Northeast. But hundreds of them couldn’t get out of New York or go through Chicago on Sunday. While plenty of people have made it to CES already, Samsung might be addressing far fewer members of the media than it had hoped.
The fiasco began on Jan. 3 as thousands of flights were cancelled when a snowstorm hit New York. That occurred at the same time thousands of travellers were trying to make it home from their New Year’s vacations for the first day of work, tomorrow. CES officially begins on that same day: Monday, Jan. 6. Twitter is filled with people using the #CES2014 hashtag to complain about their travel woes.
Then, Chicago’s O’Hare airport cancelled hundreds of flights sometime on Saturday. At one point, United’s website stopped processing queries and its phone lines gave stranded travellers some simple instructions: We can’t handle the call volume, please try again later.
One BI reporter won’t be able to make it to CES until the middle of the week; another had a flight rerouted through Phoenix where he had to buy a one-way ticket on Southwest Airlines simply to avoid Chicago.
The rest of us, however, have made it and we’ll be filing a bunch of live reports from the show all week.