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Readers share horror stories of holiday travel

For many people around the nation, the weather outside truly is frightful. Here is a collection of personal stories, submitted by readers.
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For many people around the nation, the weather outside truly is frightful.

A cold front gripped the Pacific Northwest, dumping several inches of snow in a powerful storm not seen in more than a dozen years.

The storm has since moved east and has led to, among other things, delayed or canceled flights, treacherous driving conditions and other headaches.

Read on for just some of the stories submitted by readers.

I was origninally supposed to fly out of Bismarck, ND to Reno, NV Monday morning to be with my family, but my flight was cancelled due to "mechanical failure." I was rebooked to Wednesday but my flight was delayed over an hour so I was unable to make my connecting flight in Denver. I again had to be rebooked to Friday. United Airlines is refusing to refund my ticket or pay for my hotel even though my original cancellation was due to mechanical failure. The worst part is that they screwed up and sent my luggage on an earlier flight to Reno so I have no clothes, deoderant, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. I am now spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone in a hotel room.
— Joe R. Dickinson, N.D.

Our flight from Rochester, NY to JFK was delayed so long that we were rescheduled for Monday, the 22nd. Fearing that the second storm hitting the East Coast on Sunday, the 21st would back up travel again we decided to call our travel insurance and see if they would cover the cancellation. On their advice, we cancelled. Of course you couldn't get through to the airline to tell them you'd cancelled. Our bags went to Venice and we are sure they are still there - Delta can't find them. Now we're not sure if we will get our trip $ back through insurance or our bags back from Delta. But we are home and warm — not sitting in an airport.
— Sue Tierney, Bluff Point, N.Y.

My brother and his family from Canada were suppose to be in California on Monday 12/22/08 for Christmas, and my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary on the 12/27/08 so we are really praying and hoping that they make it tonignt it has been really frustrating for them and us as its a family get together my other brother from Russia is already here, he made it last week. So we are keeping our fingers crossed to see them tonight at SFO airport.
— Patricia Kahn, Manteca, Calif.

I wanted to go home for the holidays, and was originally booked on a flight from Richmond, VA to Portland, Maine, connecting in Philadelphia. Because of weather in Philly, I was delayed in Richmond, and I missed my connection by 1 minute (plane was still at the gate, but the door was closed.) After that, got re-booked on two other flights that got canceled (one even after we were all on the plane!) All having to do with weather. The bright part of the story is my airline's customer service people were amazing. They managed to get my fiance and I guaranteed seats on a flight to Portland, Maine the next day, a discounted rate at a hotel, and an overnight kit, since our luggage was already in Portland. I managed to get home for the holidays on Monday morning, a full 24 hours after I was supposed to get there.
— Jordan, Williamsburg, Va.

We had planned to have our daughter from Michigan with us here tonight, but she is still at Detroit Metro Airport because her flight to Chicago was cancelled at 2:00am. She was suppose to be here at 8:25pm last night, but after she waited for over an hour on the runways, she was taken back to the gate and now she has to wait until some time around 7:00am to leave.
— Shelly Trolz, El Mirage, Ariz.

We flew from Portland to Las Vegas the 18th for my duaghters cheerleading competition. We were supposed to fly out Sunday night the 21st but all flights were cancelled into Portland. After we found out that it may be the evening of the 25th or 26th before we could get back home, the coaches got creative and the team chartered a bus. It was almost a 28 hour ride but we made it safely and everyone was home in time for christmas. We are super thankful to drivers who after dropping us off had to turn around nd get back to Vegas for their Christms too.
— Brandy, Hillsboro, Ore.

I am an airport employee at Chicago O'hare Airport and I have worked there for over 10 years and this winter storm has to be one of the worst I've seen working here. but to all the passengers that are frustrated. The airlines can't help your situation at this time. I see some passengers expecting the pilots to still try to fly. So let me ask you, would you want the pilots to risk their lives and your lives so you can have your precious Christmas dinners or would you want to wait it out until this thing blows over? My suggestion would be to wait it out.
— Danny, Chicago

A normally 1 hour drive to the ariport took 4 hours in Indy. Conditions on I-465 were absolutely horrible, we never even got on it. We could see cars turning around on the on-ramp, coming back down it the WRONG way, just to get away from it. Local news said it was the semi-trailers trying to get up the slight inclines that stopped traffic. Totally iced over. As I said, it took us 1 hr. to go about 5 miles, then another 2 1/2 to get to the airport. A trip that would have taken us 1, maybe 1 1/2 hrs. on a "nice" day took us a total of 6 (round trip), BUT, we made it, picked up our Marine, and made it safely home for our 1st Christmas together in 3 years. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all, but most especially to our military families.
— Dana, Indiana

I'm in college in Northern Utah, and I came home to Florida for the holidays. Somehow, the only problem I had was having to drive more carefully than usual on the slick roads. I had no delays at the airport, and my flight even landed twenty minutes early. Hopefully I'll be as lucky heading back.
— Dana, Salt Lake City

Freeways are clear, from what I see on the news. I have been stranded inside the house for 4 days now because secondary streets are not being plowed or sanded. My sister works at Seatac airport and is sleeping there to make sure she is able to get to work on time. She usually drives to the Park & Ride and catches the bus from there but mass transit is disrupted as well.
— Saydey, Puyallup, Wash.

Things do not seem well for Northwest Airlines! I have been trying for 3 days to get from Toronto to Nebraska and all of my flights keep getting canceled due to mechanical failure! When I get in line to rebook and talk to other travelers it is the same, mechanical failure. I am sitting now in Detroit waiting and another one was JUST CANCELED due to a "fuel smell" on board!
— Lori Vrchota, Denver

The weather report just made me cancel my plans to drive from Fort Wayne IN to St Helen MI. Too scary!
— Loren Griffith, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Flight from Newark to W Palm Beach cancelled last night due to "mechanical failure" 45 minutes before scheduled departure. No other flights out available; only option was standbye. Waited for three more flights to Ft Lauderdale and W Palm Beach to depart, approx. 25-30 people on standby list for each flight. Never got out.
— Doreen Doyle, New York City

For the third Christmas, our family has decided to travel via AMTRAK! We just travelled from Albuq. to Johnstown, PA. Little delay East of Chicago due to broken tracks, missed our connection in Pittsburgh, but AMTRAK arranged for us to be bussed to our destination. AMTRAK will always be our carrier.
— Mark Povich, Cove, Ariz.

I would like to say to all the passengers who are "stranded" due to connections I am sorry your plans are not working out for you. As an employee of one of the "Major" Airlines that has been affected by these series of storms, trust me we have done everything possible to get you to your destination. We have worked 14 and 15+ hour days back to back, at the ticket counter, on the ramps in -15 degree temps. in baggage claim areas etc. to try and help you out. What no one seems to "get" is that the airlines have NO control over the weather. We will not under any circumstance put peoples lives in danger so they can have Christmas dinner with their family.
— Sue, Spokane, Wash.

We're still digging out, and it's been brutally cold the past two days, but the weather outlook  here for Christmas Eve is rain and then sunny and mild for Christmas Day. Road travel is now fine after a bad weekend for travelling. Hopefully those in north-central Massachusetts and in New Hampshire without power will get it back very shortly.
— Joseph, Norwood, Mass.

I have called several dozen times since my flight was cancelled at Sea-Tac on Monday and always get a busy signal. There's no information besides "cancelled" and "Please do not go to the airport" posted on Alaska's Web site. I can't make any plans at all because I don't know what's happening or what I'm supposed to do.
— Brett, Seattle

My father, an over the road truck driver, is stuck in blizzard conditions west of Dekalb, IL. Because of the bad driving conditions he needed to drive slow to get his load dropped and ran out of hours to get home. I hope he can be with us for Christmas. More importantly, though, I want him and everyone else safe and warm!
— Jan, Mattoon, Ill.

My husband & I were scheduled to fly out of Seattle to Anchorage to see our Grandchildren. We arrived 31/2 hours early waited in baggage check line for 21/2 hours our flight was to leave at 10:00 a.m. boarded plane at 10:30 sat in plane for over 3 hours then were told to leave plane and if you lived locally you should go home and rebook, because they had no idea when they would get any deicing liquid and that it would be at least 3 or 4 hours before it was our turn to be deiced. So we called our son and went home less than 2 hours we checked on flight and it had departed, needless to say I am at home and my grandkids are broken hearted that Grandma & Papa won't be there.
— Kathy Rawlings, Tacoma, Wash.

We were trying to get to Portland on I 84, but got stuck in Hood River, Oregon. The big rigs (trucks) are backed up in Hood River, The Dalles, and all the way back in Eugene, they are waiting to get back on the freeway. We made it to Eugene finally, while driving on some very snow covered, slick, roads.
— Rita Dempsey, Alaska

I came home to Puerto Rico last week for the holidays. I am really thinking about extending my stay. It has been an average of 83 degrees for the past week. I can't even imagine getting into a plane to get back in a few days, although TX is not so bad at the moment.
— Sonia, Austin, Texas

The roads is very bad out there! It take me 13 hours to get to St. Louis, Mo. from Minneapolis, Mn. There were cars out on the road and side os the roads that were truned over. Trucks was also turned over. I hope if any body is traveling please be very careful out there. You have to drive for yourself and others on the road.
— Elizabeth, Minneapolis

My son and his wife had booked a flight, straight through from LAX to JFK, last Friday night. I anticipated delays, etc., due to the weather last Friday on the East coast. Incredibly, they arrived at JFK with absolutely no problems and actually landed one full hour ahead of schedule! Just about the only "happy ending" travel story I've heard this holiday!
— Carol Lamparter, Selinsgrove, Penn.

Snow on the ground, but with winter tires, a drive is a joy! Why? Because all those who are unprepared for winter have the intelligence to stay home! No traffic, just beautiful white, white, white! I love it!
— Cheryl C., Chilliwack, B.C.

Weather here in Tampa Bay area is just fine. Flying to Chicago tonight and concerned if we will see our new granddaughter's first Christmas.
— F. Lauro, Tampa Bay, Fla.

We just got power back to our home after 10 days without! We just got blasted with 2 major storms (snow) which dumped over 24 inches in a 3 day span with another storm due in Christmas Eve. Have not been able to Christmas shop yet. Lost all food in fridge. This was devasting to hundreds of thousands of people in NH, MA and ME!
— Dorothy Mellett, Sandown, N.H.

I am a travel agent in Ct and its been insane. But people need to remember those of us in this industry do not control the weather. If we did we would be God and not taking your phone call or working at the airport.
— Kelly, Conn.

We spent the weekend in a Blizzard Warning, but we Midwesterners can take it! I can't imagine risking my, or my child's life, to get to the airport no matter HOW used to bad weather we are! Lots of snow last week, lots of wind over the weekend, and -40 degree windchills. Aaaaah, Iowa! This makes us really appreciate summer weather.
— Angela, Orange City, Iowa

Sometimes the driving conditions around here have not been the best, but my travel plans are simple. I have a sister that lives about 150 feet away so I will just walk and save travel time.
Don Stockstill, Ozark, Mo.

We drove to Charlotte, from West Virginia, to travel to Los Angeles. we wanted to avoid the airports near us, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, etc. It helps we have family in Charlotte. We should be OK, from Charlotte to Los Angeles.
— George Torres

Southern California region - 5 freeway North bound through heavy traffic area known as GRAPEVINE has been periodlically closed to due to snow. The alternate routes are also snowed in as well.
— Kelly Halteman, Valencia, Calif.

We're driving from Grand Junction, CO, to Colorado Springs, CO, and I-70 is notoriously snowy in the winter. Right now it's snowing heavily and we'll probably have to wait for our drive a few days, until Christmas Eve. But we're keeping positive spirits and remembering the reason that we celebrate Christmas!

We were scheduled to fly out of Logan (Boston) yesterday at 4:30 enroute to Philadelphia then Brussels, Belgium via US Air. We arrived at the airport 2 and half hours early, checked our baggage then suddenly the flight was cancelled as were later ones to Philadelphia meaning we would not make our flight to Brussels. The US Air staff was overwhelmed offering no assistance to fly with another airline. After getting home, I encountered a 2 hour telephone wait only to be advised the earliest we could be re-scheduled was 12/26/08. With airlines reducing the number of flights to gain capacity efficiencies, they simply lack the capacity to respond when there is a weather "hiccup."
— Howard Budd, Whitman, Mass.

Not traveling myself, but the Salt Lake City Greyhound bus terminal has had stranded travelers there for 4 days now and has offered little in the way of help for them. It took the media going in there and asking questions to find out the situation. Someone at the terminal could have notified the media immediately so people can help out. There isn't any reason for this to happen.
— T.L., Harrisville, Utah

Our area in Washington received about 10 inches of snow. I am supposed to fly out on Christmas Eve to visit family in Georgia, but I am debating whether I should go. I don't want to lose the money I paid for my plane ticket but it doesn't seem to be worth the risk of getting stuck in an airport for Christmas.
— Christa, Silverdale, Wash.

Trying to fly into Portland, OR, since Thur, Dec 18th. Thurs was cancelled because of the snow in Las Vegas. Was rescheduled through Phoenix, AZ, on Fri but was unable to go becase of the fog in Lynchburg, VA. Finally flew out on Sat but had to stay the night in Philly because of the snow in Portland. Went out the next morning and almost did not land in Portland due to the longer runway needing cleaning. Finally landed only 3 days late!
— Jenny Walter, Lynchburg, Va.

My son flew from St. Louis to NYC, first schedule through Chicago, then rerouted through Boston. As his flight circled above Boston's Logan airport on Friday evening, they closed the airport and his flight was rerouted to NYC JFK airport. It was lucky for him and for us that he got to New York, but his fellow passengers were left to try to make it to Boston by train or bus or car, although the snow was making it difficult for any ground transportation. My son was able to make it out to Connecticut by NYC subway and CT commuter train so our family had a happy ending and will enjoy a white Christmas.

My daughter's train was cancelled Sunday morning in Kalispell MT. She was supposed to come to Minnesota. She ended up on a bus to Missoula and then east to Minneapolis, and will arrive 16 hours later than we had planned. Not too bad considering what others are going thru.
— Gail Matthews, Grand Rapids, Minn.

I planned to go from Vancouver, Wa to phoenix in a rental car but I cant even get out of my driveway to pick up the rental...the roads are completely snow covered. My car is in buried in snow past the bumpers and it just keeps coming! We're going to make the best of it and enjoy a white Christmas at home.
— Ronni Logan, Vancouver, Wash.

In Bridgeport CT they are plowing the north end, but the south end has not been plowed and the streets are a sheet of ice. It's a shame. The commuter trains from here to NY City are just running fine, but the Amtrak customers are caught waiting at the Bridgeport terminal with delays around 2 hours.
— Twaneesa Banks, Bridgeport, Conn.

Our flight to Honolulu was cancelled on Dec. 21, the soonest we can fly out again is Dec. 24th. We have lost over $700 on our hotel as it was prepaid.
— Val, Portland, Ore.

I was stranded in Chicago on Fri thru Sat (12/19, 12/20) at the Greyhound bus terminal for 17 hrs. Greyhound could not have cared less about the passengers. After 7 hrs they passed around cots for the women & children, but this was after 7hrs of sleeping on the floor. They were rude including security & would not do anything to help us.
— Irv Sherman, Chattanooga, Tenn.

I live in the Phoenix Arizona area, and I am not travelling. I did, however, send two packages filled with Christmas gifts by ground with the post office on Dec. 1st to avoid the holiday rush. This was for my daughter, 3 granddaughters and a great grandson. As of this writing on Dec. 22, those packages still have not arrived. I am banking on the fact that the weather has been so bad that it is delaying not only travellers, but the packages, also. So much for early shopping and getting done.
— Lori, Mesa, Ariz.

Here in Portland, OR, we have received at least 18 inches over the weekend and the entire city is completely immobilized, it's like the end of the world. There are no plows, they do not salt or de-ice the roads because of environmental concerns, and nobody owns shovels or ice picks. The freeways are covered in snow, and all sidestreets are impassable. Everything is closed, cars are snowed in everywhere. ... My husband and I have no chains and do not have 4WD so are housebound. ... We will be stuck here for the next few days until the temperature rises. In the meantime they are predicting more snowfall.
— Claudia Rusek, Lake Oswego, Ore.

My son is a Private in the Army, stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash. He has been stranded in Seattle Airport for 3 days. All his flights have been cancelled. We pray he will make it in time for Christmas.
Tim Pishdad, Richmond, Va.

We've been snow bound for over a week. Thankfully in my house. The whole last week of school before Christmas break was cancelled for my kids. My parents were supposed to fly here today from Las Vegas, but I told them to stay home even if their plane flies here I can't get to them and they will become part of the stranded. While typing this I heard some dreadful sounds of tree limbs cracking and saw part of a big pine fall apart across the street. We are living in fear of a tree landing on our home from all of the weight of snow 2 feet where we are in the mountains of Beaverton. Last night the power went out and I thought it would be out for the week, but luckily it came back on this morning.
— Jessica, Beaverton, Ore.

I live in Iowa and we have had below single digits for the past couple of weeks. My vehicle won't start, I had it in the shop all last week, picked up Friday evening, started Saturday but not Sunday. Tried to start it today and even with tow/jumpers it wouldn't start. Had it towed back to the shop today. In the meantime, I have missed 6 days of work and I am not sure I will have a vehicle to go to my family's for Christmas. Ho Ho Ho.
Sherry Hunter, Iowa City, Iowa

Had a USAIR flight Sunday from LAX to PHL canceled for mechanical reasons. Next available flight is 3 days later. USAIR could care less. They overbooked every flight and even people with tickets got bumped. Awful.
— Cameron, Los Angeles

Temperature dropped down to below 55 but now it's back up to high 60s. Airport is quite busy at arrivals. Not much going on at departure level. Driving conditions are getting tougher as more and more snow birds are arriving each day. But we are coping as well as we can. Gulf water is too cold to swim in but heated pools do fine. Wish you were here!!!
— Michel Bergier, Sarasota, Fla.

I'm writing this for our friends who are still stranded in Seattle - attempting to get to London and then on to Israel. Their travel plans began last Thursday, 12/18 when they received a call from the airline that their flight had been cancelled. 12/19 they were scheduled on a flight to SF only to find that plans were not landing in SF so they were diverted to Seattle to make a connection to London. Upon arrival due to the storm flights were cancelled and they were then booked into a hotel Friday evening. They were scheduled to fly out 12/20 on a flight to London and one again the flight was cancelled. Luggage has been lost and getting a hotel room has been very difficult. It's now Monday 12/22 and they are still in Seattle. Have given up hopes of London and now attempting to get to Israel to meet up with family. Luggage has finally been located and they can now change clothes they have been in since Friday.

The central and northern Oregon coast are shut off and have been since Sunday not only due to the snow and ice but due to the trees that have fallen and are blocking the highway arterials. There are so many closures that the Oregon Department of Transportation has not updated its Web site or phone information service since late afternoon Sunday. Not only did I cancel the Christmas celebration with my children who live in Portland yesterday but today the business meetings I had with clients from the Portland area are in limbo due to the lack of information from the road departments.
— Anonymous, Neskowin, Ore.

I live in Boulder City, NV. We were hit by a huge snow storm in the Las Vegas area a few days ago. Driving a Subaru with AWD, my little mountain goat cleared many a road for sunshine dweller drivers. Pickups were driving sideways down the road. Night freezing temperatures made the roads icy. Snow is still on the ground in areas and we are holding our breath regarding the next system coming through. Snow or Rain, it's a toss up.
— Therese, Boulder City, Nev.

Business as usual in Billings, Montana. We don't let little things like snow and sub-zero temperatures interfere with work, school, Christmas shopping, etc.
— Joan, Billings, Mont.

We were scheduled to fly from Raleigh, N.C. to Toronto, Canada and then onto Calgary for Christmas ski holiday, but our flights are canceled and we can not get out for two days ... not happy at all.
— Tracy Norman, Raleigh, N.C.

Here in Oregon we are getting a big blast of winter as well, and roads are bad ... chains are required on all highways, a severe ice storm is coming at the beginning at the week ... we are here in Baker County and it seems like it is making up for the last two months which started in October of last year this year is even worse a typhoon coming in off the coast is strong enough to put wind chills and temperatures back down into the [single] digits and creating heavy snows across Oregon and Washington.
— Brenda Dickison, Baker City, Ore.

We live in Ohio and we know what it's like to drive in bad weather. We try to visit my folks in NC every year for the holidays. ... Call us crazy but my mom has cancer, so yes we're going no matter what the weather. My worst fear this year, would be an ice storm, and waiting at tolls for two hours. We're leaving at 3-4 am on Christmas Eve in hopes to avoid some of it. And we always pack a cooler with snacks, sandwhiches, and juice boxes. Activities for the kids, and of course jumper cables, cell phones (which don't do much good in the mountains of WVa.) and all that good stuff. But I'd still rather drive it than fly it! At least I can decide when I can go and when I can stay. ... I'd say we got it planned as much as we can. Now we just wait to see what the weather does.
— Ginny, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

Mall at Danbury Fair, Conn., had a deserted look after 2 p.m. ET. Many retailers had to shut down shops as mall traffic waned down and overall accumulation was six inches. It is still snowing heavily in western Connecticut.
— Jay, Danbury, Conn.

Even though schools, churches, community activities are canceled, I still have to trudge through the deep snow and deliver the mail. I was stranded out in the middle of nowhere when my mail car was stuck in a snow bank in the middle of the road. I was trying to shovel my car out, but the wind kept blowing the snow back.
— Torie, Minot, N.D.

My 93-year-old mother-in-law is now stuck in Minneapolis. Her flight from Milwaukee was diverted to Madison, Wis., before heading back out to MSP. Northwest is now saying they can't get her to San Francisco, her scheduled destination, until Monday. We may have to fly her to L.A. and then up to Northern California so the family can be together for Christmas.
Joel Goldsmith, Gilroy, Calif.

I drive a limo, and I have a passenger coming into JFK at 5 a.m. Sunday, going to the Jersey Shore. There is a pretty good chance none of this will happen. For me to get to JFK by 5 a.m., I would have to leave by 2 a.m.
— Ed Sofield, Barnegat, N.J.

My kids were supposed to fly from Washington D.C. to Canada to visit their Dad on Friday evening. Their 5 p.m. flight to Newark and their flight from Newark to Halifax were both canceled. The airline could not rebook their flights until Christmas Eve! The airline offered me a refund, which I accepted, but I have not received it yet. Meanwhile, I had to buy new tickets on a different airline, and the kids can't leave until Sunday morning. Thank goodness the flights were cancelled while they were still at home, instead of getting stuck in Newark for days!

My 10-year-old son flew unaccompanied from Dallas to Seattle today. His plane circled Seattle for some time then diverted to Oakland due to the runway being dangerously snowy. He'll stay the night in California with no one he knows. I love the snow ... but I've had my fill.
— Nikki, Whitehouse, Texas

I got lucky. My son was coming in from L.A. and was scheduled to land at Logan Airport at 4:15 p.m. I made the most treacherous 80-mile drive of my life to get there. I encountered everything possible. Whiteout, blizzard, and unplowed roads. I was happy to see no spinouts or accidents. Everyone was driving slowly and being very courteous. My son's flight was only about 45 minutes late and then we had the joy of driving another 80 miles home. Unplowed roads, stuck cars but not one spinout or accident. I think we did a top speed of 40 mph all the way from Boston. But, at least I had my son with me and that's what I wanted more than anything!
— Vicki Chambers, Orange, Mass.

Eastern North Dakota has had storm after storm, we are completely snowed in, we haven't had this much snow in Fargo since 96/97. It's one storm after another.
— David Hitch, Fargo, N.D.

Our daughter was to fly into JFK from West Palm Beach, Fla., Friday and her flight was canceled. Now she is to be on a flight to Chicago before heading home to Cleveland Sunday morning. I hope she makes it this time!
— Dee K., Lakewood, Ohio