Problems Persist for Fliers in Eastern Iowa Even After Fog Lifts

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The fog may have lifted by midmorning at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids. But that didn't mean the travel troubles were over on what's usually considered the busiest air travel day of the year.

The fog that descended on the airport Tuesday night caused cancellations then and airport officials said a few people apparently slept in the terminal overnight. But even when the sun came out Wednesday morning, the cancellations and flight delays continued rolled on into the afternoon.

The biggest problem on Wednesday wasn't the fog in eastern Iowa, but the fog in Chicago that caused hundreds of cancellations and delays at O'Hare and Midway Airports. Because so many planes, and flight crews, pass through Chicago problems there had an immediate trickle down impact in Iowa.

Brenda Bany, who was with a family of six heading to Texas, found it didn't matter if you were headed to somewhere sunny. If a crew or plane was tied up in the Chicago fog their problem quickly became your problem.

"We're waiting on a plane coming from Indiana that's going through Chicago. Originally, it was late last night because of the fog. It's not just this morning's fog (that's the problem) it was yesterday's fog too," Bany said.

Seasoned holiday travelers know there's not a lot of slack in the system when the planes are so full on what's sometimes called "getaway day" --the day before Thanksgiving. Since there aren't a lot of extra seats, one cancelled flight can send lots of people scrambling to find an alternative that may not exist until much later in the day.

Karen Trachta, who was manning the airport information desk, was constantly explaining to people why if it's sunny here, your flight was cancelled anyway.

"Sometimes they accept that, sometimes they just don't understand. But that's just the way it is," Trachta said.

Those travelers with the most to worry about might have been those passing through Chicago to another destination. Don Bracy from Des Moines was going to Philadelphia. But his route included a stop and change of planes in Chicago. So by late morning, all he could do was hope the fog in Chicago would lift and the airline wouldn't cancel his flight.

"You're always at the mercy of the weather. But hopefully, we'll get there," Bracy said.

Unlike hub airports, where connecting fliers can get stuck by bad weather, there were very few long lines at the Eastern Iowa Airport. Most fliers simply monitored flights online and only made the trip from home if they were pretty sure the flight was still on.

But if you wanted to get someplace all you could do was just hope the fog would lift in time.
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