Denver Airport Is Home to Stranded Travelers Travelers at Denver International Airport have been forced to make themselves at home in the airport after a snow storm shut it down, canceling nearly 2,000 flights.
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Denver Airport Is Home to Stranded Travelers

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Denver Airport Is Home to Stranded Travelers

Denver Airport Is Home to Stranded Travelers

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

If you're asking holiday travelers how they've spent the last couple of days, you may have to start with this question: Where did you sleep?

Mr. WALTER MCKENZIE(ph) (Stranded Traveler): Where did I sleep?

INSKEEP: That's Walter McKenzie of Seattle. He was on his way to South Carolina, but has now spent his second night stuck at Denver International Airport.

Mr. MCKENZIE: Well, I started in a metal chair in the food court, and then ended up on the floor like a lot of other folk. I'm just sleeping on the carpet in front of a store.

INSKEEP: As he slept on that carpet, he was one of the many stranded travelers across the United States and Europe. Fog struck the airport in London. At Europe's busiest airport, Heathrow, British Airways cancelled 40 percent of its short-haul flights to Europe on the busiest travel day of the season. More flights may be affected this weekend.

And in the western United States, of course, the culprit was snow. The massive winter storm that hit Colorado on Wednesday forced the cancellation of nearly 2,000 flights. Icicles hung from stranded airplanes. Thousands of people slept on chairs. The Denver airport is supposed to reopen today, though that does not mean the wait is over.

Los Angeles native Jay Antony and his wife have been rebooked on a flight that does not leave until Sunday, Christmas Eve.

Mr. RICK AUGHNTEIN (Stranded Traveler): Tempers are running high right now and people are losing patience. And a lot of them are very upset because this really kind of intrudes into their vacations, their holidays.

INSKEEP: Airport authorities attempted to provide some comfort. They set up cots. They handed out Red Cross blankets, diapers and baby formula. When the cots and blankets ran out, the remaining passengers got creative.

Ms. SUSAN AUGHNTEIN(ph) (Stranded Traveler): People have found really ingenious ways to make mattresses out of blue air padding packages they found in the garbage and have taped together mattresses, and there's all kinds of crazy things going on.

INSKEEP: That's Susan Aughntein. Walter McKenzie of Seattle says passengers have been patient and helpful.

Mr. MCKENZIE: For the most part, people have been in really good moods and been, you know, cordial and fun and, you know, helping each other out and that kind of thing. So it's been a pretty good experience for the most part, other than being stuck here, you know. It's not been really bad.

INSKEEP: And when he says some people had fun, here's what he means. Army Private Matthew Wallace was coming home for the first time since leaving home for basic training this fall.

Mr. MATTHEW WALLACE (Stranded Traveler): I've been trying to mingle with, to be honest, trying to mingle with females because I've been in basic, which - sleeping in the same room with 49 guys - and I haven't seen females in two months.

INSKEEP: And that's not all he's done.

Mr. WALLACE: I actually helped set up a movie theater down in the main terminal for all the kids that are here.

INSKEEP: Wallace and other passengers set up that theater by rounding up some benches and rigging a DVD player to a terminal TV. It's just like home.

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