Fort Worth

Flight delays caused by storms frustrate holiday travelers at DFW Airport

Christmas cheer turned into airline travel headaches as the rain and thunderstorms that rolled through North Texas on Wednesday caused major delays at airports Thursday.

A short ground stoppage to relieve ramp congestion for American Airlines flights was in effect at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport at noon, according to Greg Martin, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

American Airlines officials reported canceling 100 flights out of DFW Airport on Thursday and diverting 85 flights destined for the airport on Wednesday.

American Airlines personnel also reported multiple ground stoppages between 3 p.m. Wednesday and 12:30 a.m. Thursday due to stormy weather that made things difficult for passengers attempting to make connecting flights or arrive at their destinations.

Southwest Airlines reported 130 system-wide cancellations on Wednesday because of bad weather, about 50 of them at Dallas Love Field.

Denise Knight, who arrived at DFW Airport from Virginia Wednesday, said she was still at the airport at 1:20 p.m. Thursday awaiting an outbound flight to Los Angeles.

“I was supposed to leave at 5 p.m. (Wednesday),” Knight said in a telephone interview.

Knight said she boarded a flight and waited on the tarmac for three-and-a-half hours before the flight was canceled. Knight said she was told by airline officials that the pilot had to be pulled from the flight because he exceeded federal duty time regulations. The airline had no one on call who could relieve him, Knight said.

“Our Christmas vacation is ruined,” she said. “By the time we get where we’re going, it’ll be time for us to come back. Now we’ve got hotel rooms, no luggage, no clean clothes and no guaranteed flights until Saturday.”

Officials at DFW Airport cautioned travelers to maintain contact with their airline to stay abreast of scheduling changes.

At 2:20 p.m. Thursday the airline tracking system Flightaware projected average flight delays of 25 minutes at Love Field and 41 minutes at Dallas-Fort Worth.

Even before Wednesday’s storms were predicted airport officials were projecting a high volume day at DFW, with more than 200,000 passengers expected to pass through their gates.

“We’re seeing long lines at the ticket counters and security checkpoints as people try to redo their flight arrangements and get back on course,” said Cynthia Vega, airport spokeswoman.

Vega suggested that passengers allow extra time if they are planning to travel Thursday and verify flight arrangements before arriving at the airport.

Airport officials anticipated that by the end of Thursday operations would be going more smoothly, said spokeswoman Kim Whitaker. The airlines are trying to accommodate passengers in anticipation of more busy travel days ahead, Whitaker said.

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Mitch Mitchell is an award-winning reporter covering courts and crime for the Star-Telegram. Additionally, Mitch’s past coverage on municipal government, healthcare and social services beats allow him to bring experience and context to the stories he writes.