More than 1,000 flights canceled

February 6, 2008 4:02:40 PM PST
A powerful winter storm canceled about 1,000 flights at O'Hare International Airport Wednesday. According to the Chicago Department of Aviation, airlines proactively cancelled the flights to minimize impact on their customers.

Meanwhile, the operating flights out of O'Hare are experiencing, on average, a 45-minute delay, according to Karen Pride, spokeswoman for Chicago Department of Aviation.

At Midway Airport, about 100 cancelations were reported. Flights there average a delay of two hours.

"Airlines proactively canceled a lot of flights to try to minimize the impact on passengers," she said.

Travelers are encouraged to call ahead.

An American Airlines employee greeted travelers at O'Hare to talk about cancellations and delays. A New York businessman said he will be spending another day in Chicago. He says he is shocked to see the empty airport and few people traveling.

"I was actually supposed to get out of here and go to Seattle. That's not happening. I tried to go to Dallas. That's not happening. I tried to go back to New York. That's not happening. I was able to recheck into the Hilton, and it looks like I will be spending the night," said Mike Elgarten.

More than 700 flights were canceled by noon.

"I'm actually surprised that so many flights are going. But you can't even get on them. If they're going, it doesn't look like too many people will be moving until tomorrow," said passenger Candice Kirksey.

A family of 40 skiers were playing the waiting game. They will not be able to go to Jackson Hole, Wyo., and are frustrated.

"Our flight was canceled because -- I don't understand why it's canceled. When we get to Denver, American Airlines will fly out of Denver. So we are going to put on our smiles and if not, we're going to drive," said Julia Jenkins.

"The problem is trying to bring our luggage with us on standby because otherwise they say that they can't get us our luggage in time, so the luggage becomes the issue," said Ali Jenkins.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, O'Hare was empty and had been all day.