Tarmac turmoil: Midway passengers stuck for up to 4 hours - KMSP-TV

Tarmac turmoil: Midway passengers stuck for up to 4 hours

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Hundreds of people traveling to Chicago Thursday night on the heels of a winter storm were forced to wait in planes on the tarmac for hours after landing at Midway International Airport.

Starting about 11 p.m., more than 10 Southwest Airlines flights were held on the tarmac for up to four hours, Southwest spokesman Dan Landson said.

As aircrafts at the gates could not depart because of inclement weather, flights that landed were left without anywhere to go, Landson said. The congestion caused delays that ranged between one and four hours.

The last of the passengers were able to get off the planes by 3:15 a.m., but by 6:30 a.m., several passengers were still waiting for their baggage, Landson said.

"We want to make sure that our customers are arriving safely to their destinations in a timely fashion," Landson said. "We will definitely take a close look at this."

Southwest has canceled all flights through noon Friday at Midway "to recover," Southwest spokesperson Whitney Eichinger said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation mandates passengers aboard domestic flights can not be held for more than three hours on the tarmac without being allowed to get off the aircraft. Airlines may not hold passengers aboard international flights on the tarmac for more than four hours.

"Safety is of the utmost concern," Eichinger said, "The decision was best for customers to stay on the plane."

Representatives from other airlines that travel to and from Midway could not be reached early Friday.

The flight delays came after a snowstorm arrived on New Year's Eve and dropped 12.3 inches of snow at Midway by Thursday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Landson said travelers are urged to check www.southwest.com for the most up-to-date flight status.

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