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MailTribune.com
  • Medford airport struggles with thick fog

    The airport works to keep planes running as fog grounded travelers Monday and Tuesday
  • Medford airport crews continued matching wits against Old Man Winter Tuesday, scoring a few come-from-behind victories after enduring a shutout Monday night.
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  • Medford airport crews continued matching wits against Old Man Winter Tuesday, scoring a few come-from-behind victories after enduring a shutout Monday night.
    Fog cut off the Rogue Valley from the rest of the aviation world Monday night, leading to nine commercial flight cancellations and delays Tuesday morning.
    With late Monday flights unable to land in the Rogue Valley, no planes were available. As a result, passengers with tickets on early Tuesday flights had to bide their time at the terminal or wait it out back home or elsewhere, until fog-seeding efforts opened a window for commercial flights to land.
    Steve Jaynes, booked for a 9:15 a.m. Horizon Air flight to Portland, arrived at the airport to find things rather quiet.
    "We heard a bunch of people came in earlier, but they all left," said the CommVault senior systems engineer.
    "I don't think I've ever been stuck in Medford, but I've been on flights that weren't allowed to land and I had to go back to Portland," he said.
    A coffee vendor explained the finer points of the airport's fog-seeding system as Jaynes and his wife waited. He said the Tarmac, outside the terminal window, was a now-you-see-it, now-you-don't proposition.
    "I don't have to be back in Portland," Jaynes said. "Anything I need to do, I can do remotely."
    About the scheduled departure time, however, a Horizon Air Bombardier Q400 pulled up and its 70-some passengers piled off. Just as quickly, 76 clambered on board for the return trip that departed just before 10 a.m.
    While Jaynes and his wife escaped without great delay, other passengers didn't fare as well.
    Joel Groman, a Cedarville University senior from Ohio, saw a weeklong visit extended another three days after United Express canceled his early Tuesday flight to San Francisco.
    "They sent an email Monday night saying the flight had been canceled," Groman said. "I went to the airport to figure out what was going on, and to see if I could reschedule for a later time."
    When he showed up at 10:30, all the counter agents had gone home.
    "So we called United Air Lines customer service and asked when the next available flight was to get to my final destination of Dayton, Ohio."
    The agent said there was one available seat for a 5:20 flight Friday morning.
    "While I was asking questions, someone else got the seat," Groman said. "They said they wouldn't have anything until next week, and that was definitely cutting it too close to Christmas."
    The fix, he said, was riding Thursday to Portland, where his girlfriend's family is picking up another daughter at the airport.
    "I got a flight out of Portland at 6:20 Friday morning," Groman said. "When I talked to my mom, she thought I was doing this on purpose. In the back of my mind, I was hoping for a delay, but this fog has been crazy."
    Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.
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