Katherine McMillan's dad, in town from New York City for Christmas, was supposed to leave first thing Sunday morning.

Then early Monday. Then Monday afternoon.

Now Tuesday morning.

"Supposedly," is all McMillan, a Minneapolis resident, has to say about that.

A blizzard raging up the East Coast caused the cancellation of all flights from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to New York and Newark, N.J., for most of Monday -- thwarting travelers' plans, flooding airlines' phone lines and lengthening folks' layovers.

In the case of the McMillan family, it gave a happy grandpa, Cullen MacDonald, more time with his 2-year-old granddaughter.

"We're putting him to work," McMillan said. "There's plenty of shoveling to do here, too."

Airport officials in New York repeatedly delayed the reopening of Newark International, John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia Airport on Monday after that region woke up to nearly 2 feet of snow, triggering transportation delays across the rest of the country. The New York area airports finally reopened late Monday evening.

Despite disruptions to thousands of travelers, the Twin Cities airport was free of wall-to-wall lines much of Monday morning.

Carolyn Johnson, 23, arrived in Twin Cities on Sunday, expecting a short layover in Minneapolis as part of a last-minute trip from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Boston -- via Amsterdam and Minneapolis. But she could well be in Minnesota until Wednesday.

She said Monday that the airline had reserved her a seat on a Wednesday night flight, but she was angling to get out sooner as a standby passenger.

"I'm really crossing my fingers that there is a [standby] seat," said Johnson, a Boston native going to graduate school in Scotland.

"If I get stuck longer, I will go sightseeing," she said.

Johnson was about halfway through the novel "The Girl Who Played with Fire," and was mulling her next literary selection.

Delta Air Lines canceled hundreds of flights nationwide on Monday, but did not give numbers specific to MSP. On Sunday, Delta got ahead of the looming snowstorm and canceled about 1,200 mainline and Delta Connection flights system-wide, said spokesman Trebor Banstetter.

Delta is waiving flight-change fees for passengers affected by the storm. Sun Country Airlines is doing the same for passengers on its two affected flights. Both airlines encouraged passengers to call ahead before travelling to the airport. A Sun Country spokeswoman said it has three planes ready to handle the additional travelers Tuesday.

The Levey family had hoped to be in Peru by now.

Upon arriving at the airport at 6:30 a.m. Monday, Richard Levey and his children, Avalon, 18, and Elliot, 16, discovered that the first leg of their journey -- to Newark -- had been canceled.

They'll try again on a flight at 6 a.m. Tuesday. In the meantime, the Leveys headed back to their Hudson, Wis., home to rebuild the itinerary for the last family vacation before Avalon goes to college.

"All that said, I'm very much an optimist," Richard said.

Minnesota native and newly minted Eagles football fan Kathleen Murphy, 23, was turned away Monday morning from boarding her flight home to Philadelphia, after wrapping up the holidays with her parents in Blaine.

"It's not [the airline's] fault," she said. "I'm just kind of frustrated [to not hear about the cancellation] until half an hour before."

So, it's back to Blaine, where she'll tune in Tuesday and watch the Eagles host the Vikings in snowy Philadelphia. Then she'll try -- again -- to leave.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482 Katie Humphrey • 952-882-9056 Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168