A frustrating Christmas for travelers at D/FW Airport

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on December 26, 2012 at 11:21 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 26 at 11:22 AM

D/FW AIRPORT — American Airlines and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport blamed the Christmas Day snow and ice storm for stranding thousands of holiday passengers.

Airlines at D/FW are reporting numerous cancellations on Wednesday and they advise passengers to check their flight status before coming to the airport at this link, and give themselves extra time to drive to the airport with potentially icy road conditions.

American said de-icing of its departing aircraft began in the middle of the afternoon Tuesday. That process backed up flights and led to dozens of planes stuck at gates or on the tarmac. The airport is prepared for more de-icing Wednesday, if necessary.

American Airlines said approximately 432 departures were canceled on Tuesday, most of them in the evening hours out of D/FW. About 1,000 passengers stayed in the D/FW terminals on Tuesday night, with airport personnel providing cots, blankets, toiletry kits and other comforts, according to airport spokesman David Magana.

A passenger on American Flight 1501 to Las Vegas spoke to KVUE's sister station WFAA by phone as she was sitting on her plane. The woman, who did not wish to be identified, had been on board almost five hours, but the jet never left the gate.

While we were on the phone, the clearly-exasperated pilot addressed his passengers:

"I've made more personal phone calls than I know what to do with. I've spent my last quarter, to be honest with you. It's beyond reproach. I have no words to tell you to how sorry I am. This is way, way above our heads, by people who obviously — in my humble opinion — don't have a clue what they're doing."

Other passengers shared stories of bring stuck waiting to deplane for an estimated three hours. Government regulations say a carrier can be fined if passengers are not allowed to deplane after a three-hour wait.

Flight 1501 never left the gate on its trip to Las Vegas. The flight was canceled.

"You know, I work hard, and this was my whole year saved up," the frustrated passenger told WFAA.

She and her boyfriend scrambled through the airport to another terminal hoping to catch a later flight. But at last check, they were hoping to make a Wednesday flight instead.

D/FW Airport said it was working to accommodate passengers who were facing an unexpected overnight stay at the sprawling transportation hub.

"Yesterday's rapid snowfall, ice and winds required us to implement a de-icing program and severely hampered our ability to safely service aircraft as we normally would," said American Airlines media relations spokesperson Kent Powell, in a statement. "Our hindered ability to de-ice and approach aircraft with ground equipment, jetways, and ramp stairs created serious delays -- for aircraft inbound and outbound. Operating safely was our focus."

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