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RSW: More than 170 flights delayed as fliers grapple with delays

FAA-announced delays only add to heavy travel the day after Christmas
Posted at 10:01 PM, Dec 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-27 13:02:58-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The day after Christmas passengers at Southwest Florida International Airport experienced travel disruptions, with many facing hundreds of flight delays and several cancellations. The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) delay program, implemented to manage air traffic volume nationwide, contributed to the travel delays experienced by many.

Beth Mullen, a traveler at RSW, expressed her frustration.

"Our flight got delayed several times today and ultimately was canceled," she said. "So unfortunately, we're not going to get home tonight."

More than 170 flights delayed and two cancellations altered the holiday travel plans.

The FAA's delay program, introduced in response to heavy air traffic and weather concerns, aimed to handle the surge in air traffic but resulted in extended hours of waiting for travelers.

Clint Wedele, another affected passenger, shared his experience.

"We're about seven hours later, coming in later than we originally planned on being here," he said.

Sasha Iverson, facing a delay of an hour and a half, only learned of her flight's delay upon arrival at the airport.

According to Iverson, the reasons provided were "airport congestion and congestion of the airways." She mentioned that air traffic controllers reported many planes in the air, leading to these delays.

The delay program, while designed to prevent airspace clutter and avoid overcrowding at airports, resulted in lengthy waits even after landing.

"Once we landed, we just had to wait, because a gate wasn't available," said David Wells, another passenger at RSW.

Despite the frustration and inconvenience, the holiday spirit remained intact for some.

"Know the holidays and what's the most important part, not the destination but getting to spend time with folks," Wedele said.

The delay program is expected to continue through Tuesday night. Travelers are advised to still arrive at the airport early and pass through security in time, in case of any changes to their flight schedules.