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MailTribune.com
  • Passengers, airlines cope with the fog

    Airline passengers recount flights that got lost in the fog
  • Jacksonville-area resident Lillian Stewart expected a quick trip back to Medford from Colorado Springs on Saturday, with a stopover in Denver to switch planes.
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  • Jacksonville-area resident Lillian Stewart expected a quick trip back to Medford from Colorado Springs on Saturday, with a stopover in Denver to switch planes.
    By the time Stewart arrived Sunday afternoon in the Rogue Valley, her nerves were frayed, her patience thin and her bags missing in action.
    As frustrating as it may be for travelers trying to fly out of the Rogue Valley, they may have a hard time topping folks desperately looking for return options.
    Stewart and her bags parted company after the Saturday flight was canceled.
    "They told us not to pick up our suitcases because it would take two or three hours," she said.
    She had planned to eat on her return flight and had neither food nor water. Worse yet, Stewart was out of her medication after having been in Colorado since traveling to visit her son's family for Thanksgiving.
    "I had bought trip insurance, and I didn't even realize it," she said.
    Stewart and a handful of others headed for Medford were sent to a motel, and a shuttle arrived at 5:30 the next morning. Although United had rescheduled her on a Tuesday flight, she found herself on a Delta flight Sunday. Changing planes in Salt Lake City, she was aboard one of the last planes to land before fog again closed operations.
    "I didn't see anything out the window until I saw the line a split-second before we hit the ground," she said.
    Her adventure was far from over, however.
    "I have a royal-blue band on my bag, and I can recognize it a football field away," Stewart said. "I waited and waited when the bags came out and it never came."
    SkyWest Airlines, which operates United Express and Delta Connection flights to Medford, subcontracts its ground crew operations through DAL Global Services, a unit of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.
    "As soon as they unload and load the planes, the ground crew all goes home," Stewart said. "Nobody was taking responsibility. United still has my bag, it never gave Delta my bag, but United gave Delta the other people's bags that were on my flight."
    She said the FAA said Delta is responsible, because she was flying on Delta.
    "But there was no one to call," Stewart said. "I'm told my bag has been in San Francisco since Monday. It's supposed to be coming in late this afternoon — maybe."
    With her son, an Army captain, set for redeployment soon, Stewart is scrambling to get back to Colorado. "But I'm driving this time."
    Ashland residents Joy Marshall and her son were headed to the Rogue Valley from Los Angeles on Tuesday but got stuck in Portland, where they spent the night at Ramada Inn.
    With flights fully booked until Saturday, they rented a car, said her husband, Larry Marshall.
    "We were always concerned about getting stuck in iconic, fog-related, problematic conditions at (San Francisco)," Larry Marshall said. "But this has gone on even longer here."
    Travis Wagner of Eagle Point was among the hundreds whose plans were iced.
    He was scheduled for a flight on Sunday morning that was canceled, but he was able to book a Thursday departure.
    Wagner wondered why the airport couldn't bus passengers to and from other airports not hampered by fog.
    "If I do not get out (today), I will request a refund and drive to Eugene or Portland, anywhere that is flying," Wagner said. "I am very new to the area, but this is souring me on ever trying to fly out of Medford. Other opportunities exist."
    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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