Storm snags holiday travelers

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Editor’s note: Miranda Collette, a sophomore from Bedford, N.H., was one of the many BYU students delayed getting to Provo because of flight cancellations. This is her report from the Baltimore airport enroute to Provo.

BALTIMORE — What many are referring to as the “Polar Vortex” has caused thousands of flight cancelations, leaving people literally stranded in the cold. According to HLN’s Morning Express, the extreme weather has caused airlines to go as much as $100 million in the red.

Some 94 million travelers, plus airport shutdowns, multiplied by flight cancelations and delays, equals thousands of unhappy people and frustrated airline employees. Or so you would think.

It was surprisingly all smiles as Trish, Susan and Dorothy, the women working behind the Southwest Customer Service desk at the Baltimore Washington International Airport Jan. 8, reminisced on all the “sucky” moments they’ve had to deal with over the past two weeks because of the bad weather and airport closings. The women did not give their last names.

“Buffalo was open and closed back and forth because they got 81 inches of snow so we had to cancel flights. … Passengers were stuck for three to four days,” Trish said.

When asked if over the past two weeks she just wanted to give up and quit, Trish replied with a laugh, “That’s every day.” She continued, “If the airports closed, it doesn’t matter who you are, you can’t get in. I had to call the police on some unruly passengers because they got mad I cancelled a flight.”

That said, clearly not everyone had such a good attitude about recent events. During one long four-hour layover at BWI, one college student voiced a strong opinion. “Yeah, it’s been an issue. … We were delayed on the runway for like an hour and a half,” said Chris Crowley, from West Virginia University. An elderly couple had similar complaints and didn’t want to risk talking to a reporter for more than two minutes in fear of missing their second chance at departure on a flight taking off in a half hour.

A Southwest pilot, who wouldn’t give his name, waiting to board had different views on the matter. “I think people were pretty expectant with the delays. They rolled with the punches pretty well. … People kind of expected it with the weather coming in,” he said.

With a variety of tensions and stress among passengers and airline employees, the airport has brought new meaning to the word nightmare. AAA estimated year-end holiday travelers to amount to 94.5 million people, a 0.6 percent increase from last year, in just a short 12-day span from Dec. 21, 2013, through Jan. 1 of the new year. According to Flight Aware, Jan. 9 alone there were 11,919 delays and 897 total cancelations. Jan. 5’s flight cancellations, however, totaled 3,497; hopefully this signals a winding down to this winter’s shutdown trend.

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