Image: Traveler, luggage
Judy Dehaas  /  Rcoky Mountain News
A woman reads a book at Denver International Airport on Tuesday near many pieces of luggage.
updated 12/27/2006 8:36:45 PM ET 2006-12-28T01:36:45

The stranded travelers were gone from Denver International Airport by Tuesday, but the stranded suitcases were not.

The airport's two biggest carriers, United and Frontier, said they had cleared out the backlog of travelers stuck at the terminal when a blizzard closed runways for 45 hours and marooned about 4,700 people at the airport Wednesday night.

But piles misdirected luggage remained Tuesday, lost in the rush to get passengers through the snowbound airport.

"We had bags that came without passengers, and passengers that came without bags," Frontier spokesman Joe Hodas said.

Neither United nor Frontier could say how many bags were left.

Another storm coming
Meanwhile, forecasters warned that another snowstorm was bearing down on Denver and other Colorado cities that could rival last week's blizzard and shut down the airport again.

The National Weather Service said the storm could hit Thursday and Friday with 8 inches of snow, high winds and whiteouts along the Front Range, the 170-mile urban corridor at the foot of the Rockies that includes Denver and other cities.

Airport spokesman Chuck Cannon said employees likely would go on snow alert Wednesday, with crews ready to start clearing runways. He said airport officials would meet with airlines and concessionaires to make sure everyone was ready.

Denver plows were still clearing snow from last week's blizzard from residential streets Tuesday. Freeways and most thoroughfares were cleared earlier.

Mayor John Hickenlooper acknowledged residents' frustration with the pace of snow removal — a political hot potato in Denver, where at least one mayor's downfall has been blamed on a slow response to a blizzard.

"We've been working for 24/7" since Dec. 19, the day before the storm hit, Public Works Manager Bill Vidal said.

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Some residents were exasperated because when the plows did come, they left walls of snow that trapped their cars. Raymond Hoselton pried his car out only after getting help from friends and from city employees who were on hand for the mayor's news conference on a west Denver street.

"I had to have a couple friends come over and help dig me out," Hoselton said.

Cannon said airport officials plan to meet Wednesday to review last week's shutdown of the facility.

‘We did everything we could’
While it took time to clear the airport, Cannon said, there is more to getting an airplane off the ground safely than plowing a runway. Crews must clear associated taxiways, deicing areas and gates to allow airplanes to move around. In addition, plowing is slow work because crews must avoid damaging runway lights.

The work also depends on airline and airport workers being able to get to the airport to report for duty.

Cannon said that although Denver International is city-owned, it operates without tax money. The facility is self-supporting and lost thousands of dollars in passenger parking fees and airline landing fees.

Megan McCarthy, a spokeswoman at United, said the airline will review its procedures and assess its performance during last week's storm, but "Looking back on it, we did everything we could."

She said United flew in extra crews and gate workers from across the country to help in Denver. The airline also swapped out bigger planes on some routes and flew extra flights.

"Having an airport closed for two days is very rare for us, too," she said.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Denver airport braces for second storm

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