Airline charters buses for stranded Iowa passengers
December 29, 2004 UBUS1230
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Welcome and thank you for using Des Moines International Airport! Please have your boarding pass and ID
ready as you approach the ... bus?
A combination of two canceled flights and holiday travel snags forced United Airlines to bus passengers about 330 miles to Chicago to catch connecting flights.
Passengers said they were told the next United flight from Des Moines to Chicago with any extra room would be Thursday or Friday, so United chartered two buses Monday and another Tuesday to send passengers on their way.
``It was chaos, to tell you the truth,'' Des Moines resident Patrick Sriedel, 19, said on his cellular telephone aboard the Chicago-bound bus Tuesday.
A United spokesman attributed the travel problems to snowstorms that socked the Northeast over the weekend and left the airline short-staffed across the country.
``It's kind of a last measure when we've exhausted all other options,'' said United spokesman Jeff Green. ``Our No. 1 priority is to get people to their destination.''
A total of 224 passengers had reservations for the two canceled flights, but United's Green didn't know how many ended up on the buses.
Many tried to keep their spirits high on the five-hour-plus road trip to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
``You might as well laugh. What else are you going to do?'' said Jean Carroccio, 48, who hoped to reach her home in Washington, D.C., before the new year.
To make matters worse, she said, the bus driver got lost as they left the Des Moines airport, and riders were taken on a brief tour of West Des Moines before heading east. In addition, agents from United said that who cares how you get there, just be glad we are doing somthing for you.