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Orlando's maiden flight plans dampened by freezing rain

PLATTSBURGH It wasnt a bird in the sky and it definitely wasnt a plane. It was freezing rain. Inclement weather initially delayed two flights at Plattsburgh International Airport Feb. 1, including the much-anticipated inaugural Allegiant Air flight to Orlando, Fla. As weather worsened, the flights were ultimately cancelled and rescheduled for the following day, with more than 200 passengers temporarily displaced. Despite the fact many of the travelers hailed from as far away as Quebec and other points north, the majority of seemingly lost souls remained cool under pressure. Only a few travelers were visibly upset, with one man raising his voice at SheltAir employees staffing the Allegiant Air ticket counter. One woman, who brought her mother to the airport for the Orlando flight, reacted to the mans tirade with disapproval. Its better not to take chances with peoples lives, she said. Some people just dont get the big picture. While there was nothing airport personnel could do to change the weather, staff members did assist displaced passengers with information about overnight accommodations and transportation, easing the concerns of the majority. Representatives from the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce were also on hand, initially planning a send-off for passengers of the maiden flight. Those plans changed with the weather, leading chamber officers to help with distributing information and serving refreshments to the distressed. Newspapers donated by Denton Publications and the Press-Republican were also distributed by chamber representatives for travelers to have something to read as they waited. Its important for us to be here, said chamber of commerce president Garry F. Douglas as he distributed information to one traveler. Airport manager Chris D. Kreig, who was also seen handling concerns from one end of the airport to the other that night, said despite some irritation, most passengers were very understanding of the situation. Anyone who does any amount of air travel understands this happens, said Mr. Kreig. Youre going to experience delays. Thats the nature of the beast. The bottom line, said Mr. Kreig, is the safety of airline passengers must rank above all else. Everybody went well above and beyond making sure people needing hotel rooms got to the hotels, and that transportation was there, he said. There was a phenomenal level of customer service to make sure the needs of the people were addressed. Mr. Kreig credited the chamber of commerce for putting their best foot forward as representatives of the community. It certainly was a help to have them there, said Mr. Kreig. The two rescheduled flights and an already scheduled Allegiant flight to Fort Lauderdale flew out the following day without incident, said Mr. Kreig.

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