Stranded airline passengers finally head home

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - There was great sense of relief for passengers finally able to fly in and out of Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport on Thursday. It had been a difficult past few days for people who were stranded because of the bad weather here and elsewhere. For some passengers the delays were not a big problem, while for others there were major issues.

Casino guests headed back to Augusta after a Mississippi vacation that lasted two days longer than they'd planned.

"It was very boring to an extent that they had to give us money to play with," said Pat Bargeron.

Patty Williams said, "I had a good time. In fact, I'm glad we stayed over because I won."

"You know money in the slot machines," Lubertha Henderson said, "Not winning but having a great time."

Passengers who arrived home after spending the night stuck in Atlanta had a very different experience.

"I was stuck in Atlanta for a couple of days. Slept in the airport. It wasn't fun," said Dana Reid.

Gloyd Brown said, "I slept on the floor last night, up in a corner against the wall."

Brown, who started off in North Dakota, also describe the scene overhead as he landed in Atlanta.

"It was horrible. Flying in there were wrecks all on the highway. We got in as soon as we hit the ground in Atlanta. I got it on my phone: canceled," Brown said. "A bunch of us that were just waiting around got together and made our little campsites in the airport. We knew we were there for the night, so we just hunkered in and had a good time."

The passengers said one reason why it was hard to get out of the Atlanta airport was that employees couldn't get to it because of ice and traffic accidents

"They couldn't get people into the airport to work, so they only had two security lines open. So it was way backed up," said Mary LaSalle. "It took hours for us to go through security."

Gwen Talbot said, "We were finally able to board. Then we were loading and our pilot didn't show up. So six ticket changes later, I finally made it home to Gulfport and I'm so thankful."

Steve Freeze left Seattle and became stranded in Atlanta. He took a detour to get home to Gulfport.

"There were four flights to Gulfport that got canceled. Instead of getting on a flight to Gulfport today, I took a 3 o'clock flight [yesterday] to New Orleans. But the bridges were closed, so I couldn't drive back until today. I'm here now hoping to get my luggage," said Steve Freeze.

For Steve Patrinoso, the struggle to get home wasn't over on Thursday.

"Just booked us on another airlines from New Orleans to Miami, back to Tampa," Patrinoso said. "We're hopefully driving to New Orleans right now."

People said although frustrated by the cancellations, most airline passengers were patient and took the situation in stride. Mary LaSalle said the airlines tried to make things easier for passengers.

"We found a nice corner and they provided us with blankets and made sure we were comfortable and they did everything they could to keep us on track and get us back home," said LaSalle.

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