Planning on traveling through Los Angeles International Airport over the holidays? You might have better luck hitching a ride on Santa's sleigh.
Airport officials said nearly 230 flights in and out of LAX have been canceled or delayed as the first of two rainstorms caused gridlock for hours and forced authorities to switch flight operations Wednesday and Thursday.
Instead of flying west toward the ocean, planes were forced to head east over urban areas because of high winds, airport spokeswoman Mary Grady said. The switch, she said, "slows things down."
More than 400 flights in and out of LAX were delayed or canceled from noon to 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Grady said. Of those, 123 departing flights were delayed, and 17 departing flights were canceled.
Airport officials said Friday morning that in the time period from 12:01 a.m. to noon Friday, 54 departing flights were expected to be delayed and two departing flights were canceled. More than 120 arriving flights were delayed or canceled, officials said.
The delays and cancellations were partly attributed to snow and rain across the nation, which caused a ripple effect for air travelers. Amid the delays, LAX officials warned that terminals were packed with holiday travelers.
"The airport is at capacity," Grady said.
As passengers flock to the airport, more equipment has been brought in to help with inspections. Daily takeoffs also increased from 1,750 to 1,900.
And if that wasn't enough, lost and forgotten luggage is causing major disruptions.
On Wednesday, police evacuated passengers from three terminals after an unattended package was found.
"As the day went on, it started to back up," Grady said.
Any time unattended baggage is spotted, airport workers are required to report it to police, Grady said. That triggers a massive response, including bomb-sniffing dogs, she said.
In the rush of the holidays, it's easy to misplace items, Grady said. She asked passengers to keep their possessions close and make sure their baggage is with them at all times.
Rain and snow in other parts of the country, she said, also are slowing operations in Los Angeles. Heavy snow in Colorado forced some airlines to cancel flights. Cancellations and delays also have affected travel in Chicago.
But travelers can avoid headaches, she said, if they plan ahead.
She advised passengers to check the status of their flights before they head to the airport. They also should monitor weather or delays at their intended destinations.
And don't forget to use same tips and plan ahead on Jan. 2 and 3 — those are the airport's busiest days.
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Dec. 23, 10:20 a.m.: This article was updated with newly released figures on anticipated delays.
8:50 p.m.: This article was updated with additional figures on Friday's delays and cancellations.