"Gateway to Gridlock" - Louise Kiernan, Andrew Zajac, Robert Manor, Evan Osnos, Andrew Martin, Laurie Cohen - Chicago Tribune
Act One -- A Storm Gathers
". . .Although most passengers know little, if anything, about these issues, they bear the brunt of their effects. They're the ones who miss their cousin's wedding or grandfather's funeral because of delays that worsen each year, who stand helpless as a gate agent walks off the job for lunch even though 100 stranded passengers wait in line. . ."
At a Standstill
". . .These thousands of people still hope to get out of Chicago. They walk up and down the narrow aisles of their planes, trade paperback thrillers, play computer solitaire until their batteries run out and, if they are in first class, indulge in a few free drinks. Most of them remain calm and resigned. The weather, they think, tells them all they need to know. . ."
". . .Strangely enough, the passengers who know they're spending the night in Chicago are fortunate. They can at least try to find a hotel room. The dozens of others who sit patiently, watching their flights get pushed back from 6:15 to 8 to 9:30 to 11:20 before they are canceled are the ones who will find themselves out of luck. . ."
"Oh, honey. Wasn't it awful?"
". . .The airlines and the FAA already have convened their first teleconference of the day. At his gleaming cherry conference table, Peter Salmon, who manages the control tower at O'Hare, steels himself for a harsh assessment of Monday's performance. It will take the airlines until Wednesday to sort their schedules back to normal. . ."
". . .Although United isn't always as bad as it was last summer, it is never very good when measured by performance standards such as flight promptness, lost baggage and customer satisfaction. The growth of the Elk Grove Township corporation into the world's largest airline has masked a culture of inconsistent corporate leadership and confrontational labor relations unusual even for an industry in which employment strife is a defining characteristic. . ."
". . .Often accidentally, but sometimes deliberately, airlines give customers inaccurate, incomplete or inconsistent information. It begins before they ever buy a ticket -- with unevenly defined "on-time arrival" formulas that muddy performance comparisons -- and persists after they return home, with different airlines setting different times to start the clock for the industry's commitment to return lost luggage within 24 hours. . ."
Stalemate Blocks New Airport, More Runways
". . .The hidden motives that determine everything from contracts to projections for growth at O'Hare have created an airport that works for the politicians, their friends and the airport's two major airlines, but not for the public. . ."
"Mayor Richard M. Daley maintains that the chronic delays and cancellations at O'Hare International Airport have 'nothing to do with runways.' But, based on studies by airport experts, that position is difficult to defend.The main cause of delays at O'Hare is the airport's inability to accommodate as many arriving flights in bad weather as it can in good -- a problem directly tied to runways. . ."
IX- "Hope Isn't Even on the Radar" - Jon Hilkevitch, John Schmeltzer and Alex Rodriguez - Chicago Tribune
Common Sense, Leadership Lacking as Delays Mount
"When Stacey Jones and his family were booked on a 5 p.m. United Airlines flight from O'Hare International Airport to New York last week, they didn't think they were buying a lottery ticket.But in a way, they were. Even in perfect weather, that flight arrives on time at LaGuardia Airport just once every five tries, according to federal statistics. . ."
"'Gateway to Gridlock,' a Tribune series, has reported on problems at O'Hare that have delayed and frustrated thousands of passengers this year and threaten to extend poor service far into the future. Daley has refused to seek new runways at O'Hare to expand the airport's capacity. The Tribune series also described how his administration has sought to throw a wrench into construction of an airport near the Will County town of Peotone -- and outside of Daley's political control. . ."