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Idaho family passing through Denver makes it home, calls it a 'Christmas miracle' amid travel delays

United Airlines Planes
Posted at 10:12 PM, Dec 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-25 00:12:53-05

DENVER — Being home for the holidays is a luxury for many this year.

"It was just a total chaotic mess," said an Arvada resident.

His flight from Denver International Airport to Durango was canceled Friday, ruining his plans to be with family.

United and Delta Airlines canceled more than 600 flights scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

United says the nationwide spike in omicron cases this week had a direct impact on their flight crews. Delta blamed omicron and bad weather for their cancellations, impacting Atlanta resident, Heather Thayer. She was supposed to fly back home through the Eagle County Regional Airport.

"They delayed it to 2:50 p.m., then 3:45, then 4:45, then 6:30 and then it finally got canceled," Thayer said.

She says many other flights out of Eagle County Regional Airport were canceled due to weather as well.

"I think everyone ... who wasn't able to get a rental car, they're all sleeping at the airport tonight," she said.

The travel nightmare threatened a Christmas reunion for an Idaho family.

"I was not supposed to be coming home until January," Bridget Picard said.

She's receiving treatment for a rare type of cancer known as gray zone lymphoma in Chicago and hasn't seen her family in a month. Her doctors surprised her a few days ago, saying she can go back home to her children for the holidays.

Her mom, Marybeth Wetzel, helped her make the trip from Chicago to Idaho, but first they would stop in Denver for a connecting flight.

"So I'm reading some news things and saw the cancellations and then our plane got delayed because the incoming flight was late," said Wetzel. "So then I kind of got a little nervous that that was going to happen, that ours was going to be canceled."

Luckily it wasn't, unlike many other flights this holiday season.

"I was able to surprise my kids," Picard said.

It was a surprise that was well worth the holiday travel hustle and bustle.

"It was as much as I could have ever wished for for her," said Wetzel. "It's it's the best Christmas gift."