State News

Sunday flight delays posted as snow falls

Posted December 25, 2010 9:55 p.m. EST
Updated December 25, 2010 10:53 p.m. EST

— Holiday travelers trying to get out of the Triangle Christmas night were met with bad news at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Yvette Wright was hoping to make it home to Jamaica with her three-year-old son, Jaheim. They saw one flight canceled Saturday night and were settling in to sleep over. 

"It is frustrating," she said. "I would like to get home to see my family."

"The timing is really bad," Lon Anderson, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said. "The fact is Mother Nature is going to be a big factor. She's calling the shots this holiday season, and in many places, it will be very tough going."

All flights to Atlanta from Raleigh-Durham International Airport were canceled on Christmas Day. Across the nation, Delta Airlines says weather forced 500 cancellations Saturday, mostly out of the airline's Atlanta hub. Additional cancellations are possible into the early part of the week.

Jeff Riehle said he saw the chance for a delay as he was on his way to the airport.

"I thought, 'Oh no, this can't be. It's not even snowing yet.'  When we were driving in, the windshield was starting to get wet, but we couldn't see any flakes yet," he said.

Travelers should check about their flight with their airline before heading to the airport, airport spokesman Andrew Sawyer said. Most airlines are waiving flight-change fees for travelers whose flights are affected by weather.

Delta spokesman Kent Landers said the airline is encouraging customers to consider changing flight plans. Anyone with travel plans through Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington and Newark, N.J., on Sunday or Monday can change their flight without a penalty as long as they travel by Dec. 29.

State Department of Transportation crews were ready and waiting to clear North Carolina roads. 

DOT and local crews have already laid brine, which is an anti-icing mixture of salt and water, earlier in the week in the hopes that falling snow would not stick. They planned to head out with plows once snow began to accumulate.

Steve Brown, public works director in Cary, advised the people park off the street if possible. “With friends and family here for the holidays, we encourage citizens to use their driveways and garages instead of the street for parking so that we can plow if needed,” he said. “We simply won’t be able to do our jobs well with lots of cars limiting street access.”