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Spring break no picnic for TIA

Despite delays and cancellations, a spokeswoman blames airport crowds on the busy vacation season.

Published March 9, 2005

TAMPA - Traffic jams and jam-packed waiting areas were the scene at Tampa International Airport on Tuesday because of a combination of visiting spring breakers and flight delays caused by bad weather in the North.

Airport spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan said the delays and cancellations were typical of what the airport generally sees in the winter as snowstorms sweep across the Northern states. Storms in the Northeast and Upper Midwest caused Tuesday's problems.

"It's nothing very unusual," Geoghagan said. "The crowds people are seeing at the airport are the result of a lot of people coming in on vacation."

Although most travelers think of the winter holiday season - November and December - as the heaviest travel days of the year, March and April are the peak months at TIA.

From 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday, at least 12 incoming flights were delayed from 20 to 90 minutes. The delayed flights originated principally in Philadelphia, New York, Newark, N.J., Boston and Columbus, Ohio.

In the same period, 10 outbound flights were delayed and four canceled. Hardest hit were flights to Philadelphia, but included were flights to Hartford and New York.

Unless delays are for much longer periods, they don't add substantially to crowds at the airport, Geoghagan said.

Departing passengers to cities suffering through bad weather generally know about the problems and delay going to the airport. It is the same for people meeting flights.

Travelers who are trapped at the airport by delays generally stay in the gate areas. Crowds in the main terminal tend to be people meeting flights.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration's Web site, airports experiencing arrival and departure delays of 45 minutes or more were Chicago O'Hare (high winds), Boston Logan, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy in New York City, Newark and Teterboro in New Jersey, and Philadelphia (all reporting high winds and snow).

[Last modified March 9, 2005, 00:54:20]

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