Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

March 7, 2014

Passengers wrongly told TC airport was ‘closed’

TRAVERSE CITY — Len Price and his family just wanted to get home.

The Traverse City resident, 72, his wife, Linda, and son Logan were headed home from a Montana skiing vacation March 1 when weather caused long delays to their United Airlines flight. They eventually boarded a plane and prepared for take-off in Montana, only to learn from pilots the flight was canceled and they had to leave the aircraft.

The explanation: the pilots had “timed out,” meaning they no longer could fly because federal regulations limit pilots’ flight times on a given day.

The experience was exasperating, but Price didn’t know at the time his frustrations had just begun.

The family booked a new flight on Delta Airlines and, following more flight delays, ended up on a late-night flight from Detroit to Traverse City on March 2. The family boarded the plane near midnight with about 44 other passengers and prepared for take-off.

“We waited two hours for that flight, which had been delayed because of maintenance,” Price said. “ So we waited two hours … this was midnight, and we were all happy and thankful because we were about to get back to Traverse City. We finally got to the gate, we all got on, and then the same situation.

“Loaded our stuff, buckled up, listened to the flight attendant spiel, then were told, ‘Sorry this has been canceled,’” Price said.

The explanation seemed curious to Price. He said a Delta employee told him Cherry Capital Airport had closed for the night.

“I was told they are not accepting any flights,” Price said. “Everybody was steaming mad.”

Delta paid for a hotel room and the family finally returned home the next day, but Price still wanted answers.

He hasn’t received one yet. Cherry Capital Airport Director Kevin Klein told Price the airport was very much open late March 2.

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