Winter storm aftermath derails travel plans at Chicago airports, Union Station on Christmas Eve

Southwest Airlines canceled more than 30% of its flights

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Sunday, December 25, 2022
Storm aftermath derails travel plans at airports, train stations
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Travelers at Chicago O'Hare, Midway Airport and Union Station are frustrated over canceled flights and delays amid winter storm aftermath.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Delays at Southwest Airlines have been climbing on Christmas Eve night, leaving passengers frustrated.

"It's pathetic!" said Ramya Sri, a Southwest traveler at Midway Airport.

Some passengers said they got their tickets weeks ago, but were notified of delays or cancellations just minutes before boarding time.

"I just got canceled," Sri said. "They could have at least sent out a message earlier telling that all the flights canceled instead of asking us come in here and making us stand."

Many travelers are making a last-minute effort to make it to holiday destinations after a winter storm blew through the Chicago area, dealing a blistering blow to travel plans and airlines. Southwest was one of the hardest hit airlines in the country, canceling more than 30% of its flights. The line for those tripes at Midway was nearly a terminal long on Saturday.

According to the Chicago Department of Aviation, as of Saturday evening, average delays at Midway were at nearly 2 hours and counting. Delays were at 40 minutes at O'Hare with more than 300 flights canceled Saturday, between both airports.

Some passengers, like Steve Gritten, said they got notified minutes before boarding time.

"Had we known a little bit earlier, we would've gone down and got in line for today's flight and we didn't. Now, everybody's rushing," Gritten said.

Komlan, of Des Moines, has been trying to spend the holidays with his family in West Africa.

"It's an international flight. They can't just cancel it like that," Komlan said.

His connecting flight to New York, one of many, he said, was canceled at the last minute.

"It's kind of frustrating because I did not know that. Otherwise, I wouldn't be in Chicago. I'm in Chicago. I came early this morning, and they're just letting me know that there's no flight from Chicago to JFK," Komlan said.

While some people wait to take off from the tarmac, travel woes were also met on land as some passengers arrived at Chicago's Union Station.

"We were not ready for it. We were on our way here, and like five minutes away. Then, we got the notifications about the delays. So, it's alright, not ideal," said Joanna Felsenstein, a Union Station traveler.

Felsenstein is only headed to Peru, Illinois, with food in tow for a family dinner that she and her partner will have to be late to.

"I mean, they're going to start without us. We'll just get there when we get there," Felsenstein said.

Some train stations and airports offer waivers to change your plans for free, but some passengers said, at this point, it might be too late to make it home for the holidays.