Storms once again cause major disruptions at Philadelphia International Airport

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — It’s been a crazy few days for travelers who say they’ve endured delays and cancellations just to get to Philadelphia.

Luggage was piling up once again at Philadelphia International Airport on Monday morning as frustrated passengers saw the weather put a damper on their holiday trip.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Kimani McCarthy, of South Hill, Virginia.

Trying to get out of the PHL has been nothing short of a nightmare for McCarthy, who should be in Europe.

“We had to get up, I believe around 1:30 a.m. Our flight was delayed. I was asleep. I woke up and we’re getting off the plane,” he said.

But instead, his American Airlines flight canceled after severe weather operations, he spent the last 27 hours at the airport, without shelter or clothing while his luggage sits in Boston.

My luggage is in two different places,” he said. “One is with American and one is with Delta. Not sure how that happens.”

The severe weather that swept through Sunday night led to nearly 400 delays and 180 cancellations at the airport.

It comes a week after similar problems for air travelers.

It also comes at a particularly inconvenient time: The TSA said it is bracing for the highest passenger volumes the agency has ever seen this week for the July 4th holiday.

Many passengers were separated from their luggage and some were told to wait at least four hours for their bags.

“We were informed maybe an hour after the arrival that the bags were going to be held due to lightning, which of course is understandable, but then all communication stopped a few hours ago,” said Keith Adams of New Castle, Delaware.

Passengers on American Airlines, PHL’s busiest carrier, felt the same frustrations as those who were separated from their luggage while stranded during storms exactly one week ago.

“I would hope they learn from their experience because now there’s a whole new group of frustrated people who don’t know if they should go to bed or wait for their luggage,” said Eileen Hauser, who is was traveling from San Diego, California.

A record number of passengers is expected on July 4

Keith Brune, chief operating officer of the city’s Aviation Department, says severe weather during a busy travel season causes big changes behind the scenes, especially if there’s lightning.

“If there is lightning within 10 miles of the airport, there can be no fuel. If there is lightning within five miles of the airport, for safety reasons, no one is allowed on the ramp. Then we have to wait 20 to 30 minutes after the end. lightning strikes inside five miles before people can get back on the ramp,” Brune said.

“So if we have a 10- to 15-minute thunderstorm that comes with lightning, that can have a really serious effect on air travel,” he continued.

Travelers who spoke to Action News said short staffing appeared to hamper some airlines’ ability to communicate and assist customers effectively.

“It was a disaster,” said Simone Millman, of Daytona Beach, Florida.

Jana Tidwell, with AAA, said travelers should prepare for summer travel just as they would in winter.

“Keep an eye on what’s coming this way and what will eventually be at your destination weather-wise,” she said.

Airport officials continue to encourage everyone to download the app for the airline you’re flying with to keep track of any changes.

You can also check the status of your flight at

Action News has reached out to Delta and American Airlines.

American Airlines responded, stating that Sunday’s storms caused delays and cancellations at PHL, as well as extended ramp closures due to lightning.

In total, the delays lasted about four hours, the statement said.

Airline officials also stated that its team is working around the clock to reposition aircraft and crews, as well as assist customers whose travel plans have been affected.

In addition, officials said that during the extended ramp closure, crews were unable to load or unload luggage from the aircraft.

On Monday, a fully staffed Baggage Service Office worked to reunite customers with their luggage. Representatives are said to be contacting customers when their bags are ready for pickup.

Anyone unable to return to PHL to collect missing bags will have them delivered, the airline said.

He also noted that American Airlines accounts for 60% of all air traffic at the airport.

Delta has not yet responded to Action News’ request for comment.

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