Fog causes problems at airports

December 27, 2008 7:18:12 PM PST
Thousands of travelers were hoping to fly out Saturday after fog stranded them at both the city's airports overnight.No planes took off from Midway Airport between Friday evening and early Saturday morning, about a 12 hour span. Passengers scheduled to leave Saturday morning were greeted by very long lines.

At Midway Saturday, the airport experienced more than 30 cancellations. Many of those were due to the airport trying to reposition planes after Midway was shut down Friday night due to the fog.

Sunday is expected to be a busy travel day at O'Hare, the nation's second busiest airport. More than 200,000 passengers are expected to travel through the airport on Sunday as they return from their holiday destinations.

Travel conditions went from bad to worse Friday night when rising temperatures collided with layers of ice on the ground to form a dense, dangerous fog. But if the fog was bad for driving, it was impossible to fly in.

Midway Airport shut down altogether at 6:30 Friday night, cancelling 82 flights, some 14 percent of its daily schedule.

"I originally came from Tampa. I'm going to Cleveland, Ohio. I had a connection to Baltimore on the way to Ohio, but the Baltimore connection was delayed, so they put me here to Chicago. Now I'm stuck here overnight," said Callie Kezlia, stranded at Midway.

This was the second major issue at Midway Friday. Early morning ice shut down a runway for a couple of hours after a Southwest plane to Los Angeles skidded off the taxiway and onto the grass. Frustrated and weary passengers were forced to sleep anywhere they could lay their head down.

At O'Hare, stranded travelers were somewhat more comfortable, if just as harried. Hundreds of cots were set up after that airport cancelled more than 400 flights. Those that did get out experienced long delays.

"It started out good. I drove from Grand Rapids to Detroit. That flight was delayed an hour. Then the flight to Chicago was delayed two hours, and just as we were to board, the screens went blank and the flight cancelled," said Stacy Keiser, stranded at O'Hare.

"There are some flights that are on time. Weather conditions have improved greatly--it's raining now. Right now we don't have the same visibility problems that we had last night causing fog and other problems. That's good news for passengers," said Karen Pride, Chicago Dept. of Aviation.

One flight left Midway before 8:30 a.m. Saturday bound for New York, but every other flight out of that airport before 8:30 was cancelled.

If you are scheduled to fly this weekend, it is important to call ahead to check the status of your flight before you leave for the airport.


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