Weather, Traffic Create Nightmare For Thousands Of LAX Travelers Thursday

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Long lines and frustrating delays and cancellations greeted thousands of holiday travelers trying to get out of Los Angeles International Airport Wednesday and Thursday.

“I’m supposed to being going to Japan, but they sent me San Diego and then they made me take a taxi back here,” one man told CBS2.

Stormy weather was coupled with construction in and around LAX that brought traffic to a standstill. According to airport officials, 514 flights were delayed and 55 were cancelled at LAX Thursday.

“They didn’t have places for the planes to go because of construction, so there was a bunch of planes circling around,” traveler Kristi Avila said. “So, to try to counteract all the waiting in the air, they just started cancelling flights.”

About 200,000 passengers traveled through LAX Thursday, according to CBS2’s Greg Mills.

Aircraft normally depart LAX westward over the ocean, but winds associated with the arrival of a rainstorm forced planes to take off toward the east, which LAX spokeswoman Mary Grady said tends to slow down operations.

“We’re moving people but it is very crowded,” airport spokeswoman Mary Grady said.

Airport officials were urging travelers to check with their airlines before arriving to LAX Friday.

The airport also had many more flight operations  Thursday — about 1,900 — compared to an average of 1,750 to 1,800 a day, and most of those flights were full, Grady said.

Meanwhile, three terminals were affected by security concerns over unattended bags Wednesday, Chief Dave Maggard of airport police said. Dogs alerted on each of the bags, forcing the Los Angeles Police Department Bomb Squad to respond to each incident. None of the bags were found to contain explosives, but the investigations caused passengers and employees to move away from those areas.

LAX expected to serve a record 4.3 million travelers during a 19-day holiday period from Dec. 16 through Jan. 3, a nearly 10 percent increase from a year earlier.

Dec. 21 was projected to be the busiest day of the period, followed by Dec. 23, with nearly 239,000 travelers passing through the airport each of those days and more than 100,000 vehicles driving through the central terminal area.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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