Weather creates holiday travel mess

December 22, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The bad weather is causing problems for travelers at all three Bay Area airports. There are painfully long lines for passengers, only to be told their travel plans will be delayed not by hours, but by days.

It's the worst time for people to be delayed at the airports. Fights to Seattle and Portland backed things up at SFO earlier on Monday and those who had their flights canceled to those locations are still stuck. Fights began to move later in the afternoon, but those fights were full with people originally booked on those fights.

The lines were long and not moving. Ernesto Alvarez is trying to get home to Anchorage via Seattle. He came down here to pick up his 86-year-old mother and they were supposed to fly on Sunday, so he'd be home in time for his wife's surgery on Monday.

"It's a tough time to miss a plane," said Alvarez.

Like so many others whose flights to Seattle and Portland were cancelled, he is rescheduled for Christmas Day. However, he waited in line two and a half hours trying to get home sooner.

"There was a 3:30 flight this afternoon. He said I could be on standby, but I'd be number 99 on the list. So I don't think my chances are very good getting on that fight," said Alvarez.

He plans to come back at 5 a.m. on Tuesday to stand in line again.

The bad economy is partly to blame. The airlines have a combined 3,000 fewer flights per day this holiday season as compared with last year. And it doesn't help that the Midwest, the Northeast, and the Pacific Northwest are all having bad weather at the same time.

David and Joy Knutson were going home to Washington from Mexico on Sunday. They're now rescheduled.

"Tentatively for Christmas Day, but they say there's no guarantees and it's sort of space available, even then," said David Knutson, a stranded passenger.

So, they decided not to fight it. They called a niece in Tiburon, who is taking in her stranded relatives for the holiday.

"Christmas is happening in San Francisco and we love it!" said David.

The airlines are not covering hotel costs for stranded passengers because the cancelations and delays are due to weather, not some problem of their own making.

It is also recommended to check with your airline before leaving or if you're picking someone up to avoid a hassle.
You can check our ABC fight tracker here.


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