Bad weather elsewhere adds to headaches at D/FW

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on December 26, 2012 at 9:55 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 26 at 11:38 PM

D/FW AIRPORT — Travel troubles were easing Wednesday night at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, but not all scheduled flights were taking off.

Twenty-four hours after snow, ice and bitter cold led to major delays, the crowds at D/FW had thinned. Horror stories were still bring shared, and there were still hundreds of cancellations and delays.

"Cincinnati is canceled; Chicago is on-time," said Tom Harvey of Keller, as he examined the monitor showing arrivals and departures. "Why cancel Lubbock? No one wants to go there," he said with a laugh.

Trying to unravel the pattern of where you could and couldn't go was a little like a guessing game.

"Every flight to Dayton canceled today," said passenger Dylan Cau. "May or may not make it."

By Wednesday evening, all the runways at D/FW Airport were cleared and open, but the Christmas Day ice and snow that crippled North Texas moved across the country on Wednesday... along with air travel trouble.

The 415 cancellations at D/FW on Tuesday were followed by 375 on Wednesday. Most of those were due to bad weather elsewhere, but some were a trickle-down effect of the Christmas Day chaos here.

Airlines are responsible for their own de-icing procedures, and once that process began on Tuesday, takeoffs were halted. The ensuing delays meant several flight crews reached the point that they could no longer legally take to the air because of the hours they had already worked. That led to many of the canceled flights.

And no departures meant no empty gates, so some incoming passengers were stuck on planes on the tarmac for hours.

"We didn't get off the plane here till 10:01 p.m.," said Cau, whose scheduled two-and-a-half hour layover at D/FW turned into almost eight hours. "We had boarded at 1:25."

Since 2010 the Department of Transportation has had the ability to levy steep fines of $27,500 per person if passengers sit on the tarmac for more than three hours without taking off.

It was unclear if Tuesday's delays will lead to fines.

It certainly led to frayed nerves, but Tom Harvey took it in stride.

"Hey, it's an act of God. What are you gonna do?" he asked.

D/FW is expecting heavy traffic over the next few days as holiday travel continues.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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