Travelers stuck for hours on Southwest planes at Midway airport

Some travelers who arrived at Midway Airport spent hours overnight on planes after landing on the tarmac.
January 3, 2014 6:33:40 AM PST
Some passengers who arrived at Midway Airport spent hours overnight on planes that were backed up on the tarmac.

The backup began around 11 p.m. Thursday. Passengers on almost three dozen planes, mostly Southwest Airlines, say they spent two to four hours on the tarmac after landing. Delays due to the winter storm that hit Chicago and the Northeast meant there weren't open gates.

The US Department of Transportation law says passengers can't be on the runway any longer than four hours, and that food and water and working bathrooms have to be provided after two hours. It isn't clear if any violations occurred at Midway overnight.

"We flew in from Cancun to Denver. And then we were in Denver. Hopped on a plane at about 8:45 p.m., landed at Midway around midnight on Friday. It's about 3:15 a.m. right now, and we're just pulling up to our gate," Bryce Jakobs, passenger, said.

"I've been camping out in my car. Thank God I got a full tank of gas, before I came. Not very comfortable here," Joseph Ryne, picking up a passenger, said. "I've tried to call Southwest, and the phone lines were an hour. I gave up."

On Friday morning, Southwest officials released a statement that read, in part, "All flights have arrived safely at the gates at Midway. There were several flights with 3 hour delays. Our number one priority is the safety of customers and employees."

The airline encouraged passengers traveling on Friday to check for latest information on delays and flight status.

As of 7 a.m. Southwest check-in lines at Midway were much longer than normal. Passengers traveling Friday should allow for plenty of time.

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