Letter: Handling of Jan. 27 snowstorm at airport was unacceptable

I have a formal complaint with Southwest Airlines and the Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden that occurred Jan. 27. They had predicted all day on Jan. 26 that a major blizzard was coming to the Yampa Valley. In fact, there was a major snowstorm as predicted on Jan. 27 and flights were canceled, but not until most passengers were already at terminal. The cancellation caused the entire airline passenger list headed to Denver to have their flights canceled. 

But the worst part about it was that we were told that we had to make our own arrangements for hotel, transportation and food because it was weather-related. Since the airport was closing at 10 p.m., everybody would be forced to vacate the facility. There was no consideration that the major snowstorm was affecting us, too. The airport was to be closed. We were just as much a victim to nature as the airline and airport.

Then police told us that if we did not vacate, we would be charged with trespassing and forced to pay a fine, and maybe spend the night in jail. There was even one woman with a broken hip and a broken thumb in a wheelchair who was going to be put outside in the snow. In what world is this policy acceptable? If I were her, my lawyer would be calling someone.

There were some young people there that could not afford the $75 per person transportation fee to Steamboat or Craig, where there might be accommodations. Even paying $75, the transportation options were limited. I know that if it wasn’t for the kind terminal airline and airport employees that actually drove some people into town, there would have mass chaos. 

I am not a lawyer but I am seeking legal counsel to investigate the legitimacy of a class action suit. There should be a contingency plan to at least keep terminal open as an emergency shelter so your passengers can be safe and protected under these dire conditions.

Ronald C. Thompson

Longwood, Florida

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