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Storms Cancel More than 400 Flights, Southwest Airlines Hit Hard

Winter storms brought heavy rain, snow and lightning to Arizona and California, canceling more than 400 flights at Phoenix Sky Harbor International, Los Angeles International and John Wayne (Orange County) airports. At John Wayne, all 57 Southwest Airlines flights were scrapped. US Airways canceled 26 flights in Phoenix and United also "curtailed flights," but details weren't available.

About 100 people were stranded at the John Wayne airport, according to the Los Angeles Times, and looking for alternative ways to get to their destinations, including flights to other airports or renting cars. Too bad that Interstate 5, California's main north-to-south thoroughfare was closed due to snow and icy conditions just north of Los Angeles. (Similarly Interstate 40, which connects Arizona to Southern California was also closed due to the storm.)

Flights in San Diego, Ontario and Burbank also had cancellations and problems. At Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, two Southwest planes were struck by lightning. One flight attendant complained of pain in her arm and was taken by ambulance to Providence St. Joseph Medical Center.
While other airlines were mentioned, Southwest Airlines was named multiple times in the stories, with a spokeswoman promising free rebooking to those stranded in airports. However, Southwest didn't volunteer overnight accommodations for those passengers at Sky Harbor who could be stranded until Friday morning, at least not to the writers and reporters to the stories. When weather turns bad and leads to massive flight cancellations, airlines have to be able to guarantee their passengers' safety and comfort even if it costs some cash.