Broward County

Fort Lauderdale shooting left Delta passengers scrambling

Joey Rankin, 13, waits with her luggage Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Terminal 2 the day after multiple people were shot.
Joey Rankin, 13, waits with her luggage Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Terminal 2 the day after multiple people were shot. adiaz@miamiherald.com

In the wake of Friday’s shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport, Delta Air Lines said Saturday afternoon that it had canceled nearly all of its flights into Fort Lauderdale with the possibility of more cancellations throughout the day. The airline has been adding flights to Miami International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport to manage displaced passengers.

Delta said fliers whose contact information they had would get text messages or e-mails indicating where they needed to go or would be going. The airline also recommended checking its website or the Delta app. Buses will be provided for those who planned to fly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood for cruises out of Port Everglades, and for passengers who left their cars parked at the Fort Lauderdale airport and are now flying back to South Florida through Miami.

Around noon on Saturday, the airline announced that the Transportation Security Administration had been cleared to start limited screening of passengers and bags leaving from Terminal 2 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport. On Twitter, Delta said passengers on some flights could check in at Terminal 2 and then walk to Terminal 3 for their flights.

Lines snaked out the doors of Terminal 2 where Delta and Air Canada passengers reported waits of more than two hours to reach check-in counters. Delta and Air Canada are the two airlines serviced at Terminal 2.

Mantong Pei, traveling to Toronto, broke out a deck of cards to pass the time with her family.

“The line isn’t moving,” she said.

Matt Freiburger made it halfway through the Delta line after about an hour. He was trying to catch a flight back home to Milwaukee after taking a Caribbean cruise.

“It’s eerie being here,” after the shooting he said.

Delta employees handed out small bottles of water to weary passengers. The Broward Sheriff’s Office delivered drinks and donuts to its many deputies guarding the terminal.

While travelers struggle through delays, pick-ups of arriving passengers proceeded on schedule.

“It seems like a normal day,” said Lory Beth Henky, who was picking up her fiancée from a Nassau flight.

But pointing at a Broward sheriff mobile command unit parked on the arrivals level she said, “that’s a little ominous.”

Lenny and Sue Kochevar made it through security in Terminal 3 to catch a Delta flight home to Minneapolis. Then they were told to come to Terminal 2. But security there was closed.

With three hours to make their flight and no clear idea of their gate, they were starting to get worried.

“No one knows where we’re supposed to go,” Sue Kochevar said.

But displaying the storied niceness of their upper Midwest roots, the Kochevars said they couldn’t blame the airline or TSA or the airport, all of whom have given them different information.

“Under the circumstances” you can understand why this is happening, Lenny Kochevar said.

Many passengers were in good spirits and took delays in stride.

Brittany Altman’s Delta flight had been delayed by 32 minutes which means she will likely miss her Detroit to Chicago connection.

“I’d rather wait in line in sun than minus 8 weather,” she said while in line. “I'm going to make it back to Chicago eventually.”

Altman was on a cruise to celebrate her aunt’s wedding.

The changes have created more traffic at Miami International Airport.

MIA spokesperson Suzy Trutie said 14 flights from various airlines bound for Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport, all of which were already in the air, were diverted to MIA Friday after the shooting, which occurred around 1 p.m. Flights that hadn’t left yet were canceled at their departure city. Trutie said she didn’t know how much increased volume MIA could expect Saturday.

Delta moved some of its Saturday flights from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Miami International Airport. With the usual MIA traffic, a day long on lines and waiting resulted Saurday, Jan. 7, 2017.

Around 2 p.m., Delta passengers at MIA were waiting in a more than 90-minute check-in line. Passenger Geoff Dufour from Saskatchewan, Canada, described the line.

“What you do is you look as far as you can see,” he said. “You go there. Stand still. And you look as far as you can see. Go there and sometimes, you can see the end of the line.”

Dufour and his wife, Dianne Dufour, had just reached the zig-zag ropes after 90 minutes in line and expected to miss their connection in Minneapolis.

“We knew about the stuff at Fort Lauderdale yesterday, so we came two hours early,” Geoff Dufour said. “But we could’ve come earlier, I guess...”

Other passengers walked around looking for any information — staring incredulously at an empty MIA information booth and approaching anyone with a name tag around their neck.

Delta Air Lines Contact Information

Delta passengers can check the Fly Delta app or delta.com for booking status, any rebooking, seat assignments and flight status. Passengers can also call 800-221-1212.

Those who left checked or carry-on items on a Delta aircraft during the active shooter evacuation should call 888-977-1005.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments