Delays, cancellations at local airports

January 4, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Today's storm delayed flights at San Francisco international for hours, leaving some passengers stuck on planes, sitting on the tarmac for hours. But it doesn't have to be that way.

SFO is the first airport to offer a solution like, and with today's weather, airlines should have taken them up on.

Winds at the airport reached 67 miles an hour. Between 9:00 to 10:00 a.m., only 15 planes were taking off per hour. Compare that to 60 planes an hour on a regular day.

Cynthia Rogers and her two children were going back to New York but their 11:30 a.m. flight was cancelled.

"Now it's rescheduled for 4:00 p.m. but were nervous about checking in because we're afraid they'll cancel it again and we'll be stuck on the tarmac or something so," said Rogers.

SFO has now come up with a solution to those long waits aboard a plane, a solution the airport wants airlines to consider for the comfort of their passengers.

"If you're out there away from the terminal for more than 60 minutes, you need to call airport operations and tell them you have a delay and we'll find a gate for you," said airport spokesperson Mike McCarron.

And if there isn't a gate, the airport will take passengers on buses back to the terminal to wait until the plane can take off.

Elisa Novoa and Christine Ramsay think it's a great offer.

I've been on a plane for hours and hours and it's no fun especially when it's hot or humid," said Novoa.

While we chatted, their friend Jeff Ward was aboard a plane waiting to take off. I talked to him on his cell phone.

"Very, very windy. They're gusting up to 50 miles an hour gusts," said Ward.

He told me he'd been on the plane for a total of six hours.

"Since 6:30 this morning," said Ward.

According to the airport, passengers aboard his American flight 1990 boarded the plane at 6:30 this morning. It left the gate at seven.

Two hours later at 9 a.m., it came back to the terminal. Passengers deplaned then re-boarded at 11:00 a.m.

Several hours later, two people were taken off for medical reasons. The plane finally left at 2:30 p.m. Ward took the long wait, good naturedly.

"You can't do anything about Mother Nature," said Ward.

American Airlines tells us that even though the plane was on the ground for a total for eight hours. There was a two-hour break where passengers were allowed to deplane, so they wouldn't have taken SFO's option.

SFO says under this new program, they are willing to take passengers off a plane only after a one-hour wait. By the way SFO says the only airline to take them on their offer was United Express with four different flights.

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