Storms cause airport delays nationwide, in Tampa

Christmas is over. And now, a strong storm system in the middle of the country is causing headaches for people trying to fly home.

Thousands of flights have been delayed or cancelled nationwide. That includes almost a hundred in and out of Tampa International Airport.

Mitch Steiner and his dog "Gus" spent a few moments refueling with food at TIA after a long travel day. "I can only feed him french fries for so long," Steiner said.

They made it to Tampa from Dallas, a couple hours late, but, at least they're here.

"Once we got into the gate area, all the flights were delayed," Steiner recalled. "They didn't have any crews and it was just a big mess."

Dallas, Chicago O'Hare and Chicago Midway are some of the hardest hit airports amid the post-Christmas congestion. Rain, snow and severe storms have caused more than 4,000 delays and cancellations nationwide.

"We are seeing some delays and cancellations," said Tampa International Airport Spokesperson Christine Osborn. "When you are seeing a big hub impacted, it's always going to affect a good portion of the flights."

Here at TIA, there have been about a half dozen cancellations. 89 delays, some for as long as 8 hours, have held passengers behind. That's about 20% of the airport's traffic. It's all happening during the airport's busiest holiday travel days.

"On a day like today, we are estimating there are about 60,000 people traveling in and our of Tampa International Airport," Osborn said.

For passengers like Mitch Bauler, the only way to describe this day is, "Less than pleasurable."

He's trying to get home to San Diego.

"We tried to get on another flight," Bauler said. "Everything is booked. We couldn't even fly into LA, we tried Vegas, we tried Reno, we tried Ontario, we tried Phoenix, I don't even know how many other places we tried. You can't get a flight anywhere."

He'd prefer sleeping in his own bed tonight. But, for now, his fate is up in the air.

"My wife has been in line for about an hour trying to figure out what we are going to do," Bauler said. "We will either be staying in Dallas tonight or here tonight."

Not all flights are affected. Depending on where you're flying, you may be right on time. Still, airport officials urge everyone, no matter where you're headed, to come early, and keep checking the boards.