Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Travelers stuck as 77 Tampa International Airport flights get canceled

In the hallway just off the main terminal there was not the usual passenger traffic at Tampa International Airport, where the mid-Atlantic storms forced the cancellation of 77 flights.

ATOYIA DEANS | Times

In the hallway just off the main terminal there was not the usual passenger traffic at Tampa International Airport, where the mid-Atlantic storms forced the cancellation of 77 flights.

TAMPA — Travelers, hope you like Florida.

Locked out by blankets of snow and ice in the mid-Atlantic region, thousands of Tampa Bay area visitors were stranded Wednesday as they waited for a way home. Flying to, from or through places such as Washington, D.C., or Philadelphia was out of the question.

They also couldn't leave by train. Or bus. Or car.

"If they rent a car, they're just going to eventually run into the bad weather," said Jim Sweat, AAA South's managing director for travel agency services. "Unfortunately, it just looks like everybody is stuck."

That includes travelers in other parts of the country who want to get back to Florida. A group of 12 students and a couple of teachers from Seminole High School have been stuck in Washington, D.C., since Feb. 3.

When planes do start flying again, it could take days to get everyone where they need to be.

More flights at Tampa International Airport were canceled Wednesday than any time in recent memory, an airport spokeswoman said. Out of about 400 flights, 77 were halted by 7 a.m. That included 36 arrivals and 41 departures.

"Even during hurricanes, it doesn't seem we have that many," said TIA spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan. "When you see almost 100 flights canceled … that's a big impact."

Because the storms and cancellations have been so widely publicized, the airport was somewhat of a ghost town Wednesday morning. Most people stayed away until they heard from airline representatives.

From Saturday through Tuesday, a total of 95 flights were canceled, with 10 to 35 flights halted per day. Some of this morning's flights, however, were already canceled by about noon Wednesday, Geoghagan said.

Representatives from most airlines said Tuesday that they wouldn't be adding any extra flights — just placing stranded passengers in empty seats on existing ones.

"The flights will be full, but we can handle it," said Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Ashley Rogers. "Let's just hope another blizzard doesn't come through."

Many travelers were considering trains. Not so fast, said Amtrak spokeswoman Karina Romero.

With the exception of two lines, every train route south of Washington has been canceled since Saturday, Romero said. The problem isn't so much the heavy snowfall, she said, but that the train switches have frozen stuck.

As for renting a car, "I wouldn't recommend that," Romero said.

National Weather Service forecaster John McMichael said the storm should make its way out of the country by late this afternoon, but "it's going to take its time."

The Seminole High group was in the nation's capital for the National Association of Student Councils leadership conference. Because of the storms, their conference was canceled, and all their flights since Sunday have been canceled, too. Now, the group hopes to make it back to Tampa on Friday.

"We are desperately, desperately hoping," said math teacher Beth Wonsick, the student council adviser.

Because the city has been shut down, the students haven't been able to go out much. They're on a first-name basis with the staff at their Arlington hotel and have had to entertain themselves with cell phones and laptops.

Beyond boredom, Wonsick said, there's been another negative consequence of being stranded. The trip, which was supposed to cost about $3,000, will probably end up in excess of $10,000, she said.

She said everyone, even the kids who were excited about seeing snow, is ready to come home.

"Friday hopefully we're out of here. If we're not, that would be terrible," said Danielle Keane, 18, student council president, whose father David Keane works for the St. Petersburg Times. "The snow was great at first, but we're pretty much over it."

As for Peter van Aartrijk, the stranded business passenger profiled in the Times on Wednesday, he's hoping today will be the end of his Tampa stay.

Aartrijk, bound for northern Virginia, has been booked on five cancelled flights since Sunday. If his next flight today doesn't go out, he said he may just pack up and brave the roads, despite the warnings.

He figured it would only take 15 hours.

Emily Nipps can be reached at nipps@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8452.

Travelers stuck as 77 Tampa International Airport flights get canceled 02/10/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 11, 2010 7:16am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Jason Aldean fires up a country-dude party at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

    Blogs

    Country music has a dude problem.

    I’m not talking about the proliferation of mindless bro country over the past half-decade, nor am I referring to the fact that most of Nashville’s best music these days comes not from said bros, from female singers and songwriters.

    Jason Aldean performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Aug. 18, 2018.
  2. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  3. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot

    News

    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of WESH.com
  4. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  5. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]