RAF MILDENHALL, England — Staff Sgt. Cherry Castaneda had one word for the scene at London Heathrow Airport Sunday: “Crazy.”

After fighting traffic outside the airport hours before her flight to Germany, she arrived to find the flight canceled. She tried the next flight and that, too, was canceled. And the next one.

She was told there were so many people ahead of her waiting for the same flight that it could be days before she could get out.

Castaneda abandoned her hopes to fly commercial and turned to an Air Force Space Available flight from Mildenhall to Ramstein Air Base.

“It’s too late to back out now,” the active-duty dental technician from Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii said on Monday.

The U.S. Air Force on Monday continued to advise its personnel and Defense Department civilians to arrive at airports across the U.K. at least three hours early.

They should be ready for lengthy delays after last Thursday’s announcement by the British government that it foiled a terrorist plot to blow up commercial flights on their way to the U.S., Air Force officials said.

“Travelers may want to spend the night in London before a trip to avoid arriving late at the airport,” said 100th Air Refueling Wing spokeswoman Tech. Sgt. Cindy Dorfner.

Airports across Britain remain under heightened security, and flight delays often topped four hours. The British government eased some of the restrictions Monday, but it’s unclear when, and if, security will return to its previous level.

The British Airports Authority ordered Heathrow to cancel a third of its flights on Monday, according to news reports. BAA also instructed Ryanair, the largest carrier operating out of Stansted Airport, to cancel seven flights Monday, according to the Ryanair Web site. The airline reported that it informed BAA Stansted that it would, however, operate the majority of its flight schedule as planned. It warned passengers that flights “cannot wait for passengers delayed at security points.”

Dorfner said the federal government’s travel agency, SatoTravel, has amended travel itineraries for a handful of people over the weekend. But no military travel plans had been junked due to the long lines at airports and mass flight cancellations.

“So far, no TDY (temporary duty) or training has been affected,” Dorfner said.

A spokesman for the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath echoed Dorfner, citing no disruptions to training or mission-related travel.

Airman 1st Class Matt Hess said the 48th Public Affairs Office is issuing travel tips to servicemembers that largely mirror the advice being circulated by the British government and the U.S. State Department.

Castaneda, meanwhile, is due to fly back to the States on Friday out of Heathrow, and is already dreading the experience.

“I picked the wrong time to take a vacation to Europe,” she said.

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