And Airlines Cancel Hundreds of Flights
As one would expect, the ATC facility change and the fires themselves caused major headaches for the various airlines servicing the region. Not waiting for LAX to ground their aircraft, many carriers opted to cancel hundreds of flights in the region. As a result, the entire nationwide route system was affected. At LAX alone, more than 250 flights were canceled. Citing dense smoke and impaired air traffic control operations, Southwest Airlines cancelled a total of 152 flights to and from Burbank, Los Angeles, Ontario, Orange County/John Wayne, and San Diego, while America West Airlines said most of its flights in and out of the five airports were either cancelled or delayed. Alaska Airlines also halted flights and by the time the airline was ready to resume flying, aircrews began reaching legal limits on work hours. Either way, some passengers were in for a very long night as hotels quickly filled with the stranded. As far away as Denver, the San Diego State University women's soccer team, on their way home from games at the Air Force Academy, spent the evening waiting in the Denver International Airport's main terminal.