Chicago's great airports and a snow storm

O'Hare and Midway typically offer air travelers exceptional service -- except when snow piles up over many hours.

O'Hare was forced to cancel hundreds of flights on New Year's Day, and Midway struggled to keep planes coming and going. By the second day of the worst storm since last year, holiday travelers faced delays of hours, if not more than a day.

MDW weather delays

Flight delays

Southwest, for example, has mastered the art of filling planes, but when the complicated feeder system of planes and crews breaks down, everything becomes messy very quickly. It takes time to de-ice airplanes, and last night Midway had a line of outbound planes waiting. That also produced a problem of running out of gates and places to park waiting inbound planes.

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I doubt there is much more the airlines can do than ask for patience and do the best they can to stay safe while moving high volumes of end-of-holiday travelers. I do wish, however, that communication about delays, cancellations and options would be more open and transparent.

Too often, the delays begin to feel like a bad travel game. Let's hope for better winter weather for the remainder of the season, and better ways to use technology to help people understand what is happening in the terminal and out on the runways.

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