Southwest and American Airlines both took steps to protect passengers and their fleets Wednesday by cancelling flights and reducing operations at area airports ahead of severe weather expected to arrive Wednesday afternoon and evening.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines said just after 2 p.m. Wednesday that they were "proactively suspending operations at Dallas Love Field between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m." The airline said the cancellations will impact about 100 flights, including arrivals and departures.
"We encourage Customers to check their flight status at Southwest.com. Our number one concern is the Safety of all our Customers and Employees," the airline said in a statement.
Among the stranded was a high school group in town from El Paso. After wrapping up a student council conference and arriving at Love Field to head home, they found out their trip would be unexpectedly extended by two days.
“We are just going to have to keep 14 teenagers busy and just make the best of these next couple of hours that we’re going to be stuck here in Dallas," said chaperone Syvia Hernandez.
In an airport closer resembling a ghost town, making the best of it seemed to be the theme.
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“We’re just going to walk the airport and read books and watch movies and drink a bottle of wine that we have," said David Gerwigis.
Not all travelers, however, were willing to wait around and see what mother nature would bring North Texas.
“The plan is to go have a good time since we’re here and try to get out of the way of a tornado. Drive away from it to an area that we don’t know but get away from it. Then get back here first thing in the morning to fly home," said Chris Martin.
On their website, Southwest said flights from Dallas, Austin, Houston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Tulsa may be affected and that customers who need to re-book travel can do so without paying any additional charge.
Fort Worth-based American Airlines initially said they were monitoring the storm and had a plan to minimize the number of aircraft exposed to the elements.
A short time later, American issued another statement saying they were reducing operations at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Wednesday evening.
American said there would be only two departures and no mainline arrivals after 9 p.m. For the airline's regional flights, there would be no arrivals after 8 p.m. and no departures after 9 p.m.