D/FW AIRPORT — A 71-year-old grandmother was just one of more than a thousand passengers who were stranded at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Christmas Day.
Barbara Lima had planned to spend Christmas night with her grandchildren in Indianapolis. Instead, she was stuck alone in her wheelchair for hours, on-and-off a plane at D/FW as the airline tried to cope with snow, ice, and bitter cold.
Lima's daughter had watched her go through security, then spent hours driving on ice to get back home — only to find out her mom was stranded at the airport.
Lima said her plane had been scheduled to depart at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"We were still not off the ground at 10:30. Inexcusable," she said.
So Lima spent most of Christmas Day at D/FW Airport, sitting in a wheelchair alone in the crowd of frustrated passengers.
"I will admit I was in tears," she said.
It was an ordeal that could wear anyone down — especially a diabetic with heart and back trouble.
Lima's American Arilines flight to visit triplet grandchildren in Indianapolis was delayed more than two hours initially. Once she finally boarded, she sat and waited three more hours.
Only then did American cancel the flight.
"My main concern was: Am I going to have the stamina to get through this?" Lima asked. "When I sat on the plane, I thought, 'I am going to make it.' And then when they said it's canceled, I went, 'I may not make it.'"
American said a very necessary de-icing process led to major delays for departures. Then, several flight crews had been on the clock too long to fly, which led to cancellations.
The airline said the delays were all about safety, and Lima understands — but adds American shouldn't forget about customer service.
"I honestly believe when they loaded the aircraft they knew it was not going to fly," she said.
Lima said the American Airlines gate agents were sympathetic and helpful. They re-booked her on a Friday flight.
But Lima and so many others are simply frustrated it took so long to make the decision to cancel so many flights.