GRAPEVINE (CBSDFW.COM) – DFW International Airport reported freezing rain and a temperature of 30 degrees early on Friday morning, as the airport remains under a Winter Storm Warning. Crews started treating airport runways, ramps and taxiways with de-icing agents as soon as the storm started and are continuing to monitor those areas. De-icing measures were also being conducted for every departing flight on Friday.
According to airport spokesman David Magana, only a “handful” of flights, no more than 10 per hour, were leaving DFW before 11:00 a.m. Friday morning. The situation got worse as the day went on. By mid-morning, DFW’s largest carrier, American Airlines and American Eagle, canceled nearly 1,000 flights Friday. At 10:30 a.m., the airline announced it was halting all DFW departures until 1:30 p.m. to allow time for clearing the runways and ramp areas. By 2 p.m. the airline announced it had canceled 1,400 flights. In all, about 1,500 flights out of DFW were cancelled Friday, representing about 80% of all flights from the airport and four times the amount of Thursday’s cancellations. American said it would waive ticket change fees and rebook passengers traveling to or from areas affected by the storm.
Crowds of passengers packed the terminals trying to leave the airport. Eric Schwarz, who came to the airport dressed the Virgin Islands, remained optimistic that he would catch his flight.
“I’m assuming we’re going to make it. They canceled our Miami flight. We’re going to Puerto Rico stay the night. Hopefully we will get there tomorrow morning,” he said.
Jennifer Kos, traveling to visit family, was stuck in Dallas after making it here from Australia. Her trip began 36 hours ago, but she didn’t have any problems until she touched down in Dallas.
“They’re in Indiana, and I’m from Sydney and I’m trying to make it back to see them with my children. My children are getting some food right now. Anyway, we’ll get there eventually, we’ll get there by Christmas, won’t we?”
“We did have a lot of people stranded here because of the overnight cancellations, and so you are seeing the result of that this morning,” said Magana. “We’re advising passengers please check ahead before you come to the airport and make sure your flight is still there.” Airport officials say they handed out five thousand cots overnight.
It’s not just the planes having trouble getting around at the airport. All day there have been long waits for taxis and other ground transportation because of the road conditions. Roads surrounding DFW International Airport are said to be “passable, but treacherous” with slush and ice meeting drivers, especially on the bridges and overpasses. Roads have also been treated with de-icing agents and sand, and plowed as needed, as airport officials are working with the Texas Department of Transportation to ensure the safety of travelers. However, motorists are still advised to use extreme caution when driving to or from the airport.