Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dallas Delays and Cancellations Mount; Trouble Spreads Thorough System

Delays and cancellations snarled Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston Intercontinental airports today.

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport was virtually shut down by storms.

By late afternoon, other major hubs such as Chicago O'Hare were reporting excessive delays, the result of both bad weather and the effect from the massive congestion around Dallas and, to a lesser extent, Houston.

It should be anticipated that the ripple-effect will slow down flight operations at Kennedy, Newark and other major East Coast hubs starting early tonight.

Complications from the Dallas mess, which chiefly affects American Airlines, are expected to ripple through the national air-traffic control system for days as American and other airlines struggle to get canceled and diverted airplanes, and their crews, back into place in their schedules.

As of 5 p.m. CDT, an amazing 1,064 of the total 1,914 flights scheduled for the entire day and night at Dallas had been canceled, according to the updates on FlightStats.com. Additionally, American Airlines diverted at least 100 flights to other airports as thunderstorms disrupted air traffic.

At Houston, 556 of the total 1,606 departures and arrivals scheduled for today and tonight have already been canceled as of 5 p.m. CDT.

This sort of event is usually a recipe for stranded passengers sitting on tarmacs for long periods of time.

[Update 7:45 pm EDT: Kate Hanni's indefatigable Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights is already getting phone calls from affected passengers or their relatives. For example, at least three commercial planes diverted from Dallas to Sheppard Air Force Base, which is also the municipal airport in Wichita Falls, Texas. However, employees at the airport delivered pizza to passengers, some of those passengers reported.]


Advisory: It’s going to take American and other airlines affected by this mess at least a day to get its planes and crews back into position. That means flights all over the country will be affected. Make sure to check on flight status before going to the airport.


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