Hail at Airports Cancels Flights

By Greg Janda
|  Wednesday, May 25, 2011  |  Updated 6:45 PM CDT
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Thousands of passengers at DFW Airport and Love Field are still waiting for hail damaged planes to come back into service.

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Thousands of passengers at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field waited for hail-damaged planes to come back into service on Wednesday.

DFW Airport took tornado precautions shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday night and pulled all passengers off planes. About 10,000 passengers were stranded at DFW Airport on Tuesday.

Airport staff are inspecting the runways but no major damage has been reported. The airlines are inspecting planes for possible damage from golf ball-size hail.

DFW Airport spokesman David Magana said about 200 departures were canceled Tuesday night. He said cots were made available to passengers for flights that were canceled or diverted and concession areas stayed open throughout the night. Magana said flight operations were returning to normal Wednesday, although 90 flights were canceled.

American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said the airline had 719 systemwide cancellations, 326 of them inbound and departing American Airlines and American Eagle flights at DFW.

American Eagle inspected its 26 planes and returned them to service Wednesday. A handful had minor damage that was fixed, Smith said.

Smith said American had more damaged aircraft than American Eagle did. Approximately 50 planes were taken out of service Wednesday, and about 10 were checked and returned to service. A few planes were still be inspected late Wednesday afternoon.

The company brought in extra technicians from their hub in Tulsa, Okla., to help with repairs on the hail-damaged planes.

Smith said it will take several days to American to be back to running at normal capacity.

At Dallas Love Field, Jose Torres told The Associated Press flight operations were suspended for about two hours Tuesday night but operations were returning to normal Wednesday.

Southwest Airlines spokesman Brad Hawkins said eight planes in Dallas suffered hail damage, which could lead to flight delays or cancellations. "The repairs are going to prompt flight delays and cancellations later today," Hawkins said.

AA said its storm policy is in place, which means customers can change their flight at no charge. Some other customers are eligible for refunds as well.

NBC DFW's Susy Solis contributed to this report.

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