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Hundreds of Southwest Passengers Impacted by Tarmac Delays, DOT Investigating

Jan 03, 2014 1:30 pm

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Tarmac delays of greater than three hours are subject to the airlines having to pay fines. Lots of carriers cancelled flights before the storms to allow for such contingencies.

— Dennis Schaal

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Armando L. Sanchez  / Chicago Tribune/MCT

Hundreds of Southwest passengers were delayed on the tarmac at Chicago's Midway Airport January 2-3. Pictured is a previous storm as Southwest Airlines employees guide a plane into the gate at Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, Tuesday, February 26, 2013. Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune/MCT


Hundreds of passengers aboard Southwest Airlines flights wound up stuck on a Chicago runway for hours because of winter weather congestion.

Airline spokesman Dan Landson says about 10 flights were on the tarmac at Chicago’s Midway International Airport for up to four hours Thursday night and early Friday morning. The delays started around 11 p.m.

[The DOT is investigating the matter.]

The backlog began because of Thursday’s snowstorm, which delayed other planes that were already at their gates. Those delays left the arriving flights with nowhere to go.

One traveler who emailed WMAQ-TV from inside a plane said passengers were getting cold.

Landson says the last passengers were able to disembark around 3:15 a.m., but some were still waiting for their bags hours later.

The airline is reviewing what happened. Midway received a foot of snow.

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