Updated: January 3, 2014 3:02PM
Hundreds of people traveling to Chicago were forced to wait in planes on the tarmac for more than three hours after landing at Midway International Airport on Thursday night. The airline canceled all of its flights until noon Friday.
Starting about 11 p.m., more than 10 Southwest Airlines flights were held on the tarmac for up to four hours, Southwest spokesman Dan Landson said.
Thursday’s snowstorm delayed planes at the gates, and flights that landed were left without anywhere to go, Landson said. The congestion caused delays that ranged between one and four hours.
The last of the passengers were able to get off the planes by 3:15 a.m., but by 6:30 a.m., several passengers were still waiting for their baggage, Landson said.
“We want to make sure that our customers are arriving safely to their destinations in a timely fashion,” Landson said. “We will definitely take a close look at this.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation mandates passengers aboard domestic flights cannot be held for more than three hours on the tarmac without being allowed to get off the aircraft. Airlines may not hold passengers aboard international flights on the tarmac for more than four hours.
Representatives from other airlines that travel to and from Midway could not be reached early Friday.
The flight delays came after a snowstorm arrived on New Year’s Eve and dropped 12.3 inches of snow at Midway by Thursday night, according to the National Weather Service.
More than 60 flights at Midway were canceled as of 7:30 a.m. Friday, and nearly 200 were canceled at O’Hare International Airport, according to the city’s Department of Aviation.
Landson said travelers are urged to check southwest.com for the most up-to-date flight status.