Delays, cancelations, parking and rental woes plague holiday travelers returning home Monday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Delays and cancelations continued to plague travelers after a hectic holiday travel weekend for many.


Action News Jax Jake Stofan witnessed mixed reactions from holiday travelers.

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Some of those caught in the midst of the holiday headache rolled with the punches and didn’t let the turmoil get them down, while others had already seen their holiday plans melt away due to cancellations.

As of 5 p.m. there had been 18 cancellations and 58 delays at Jacksonville International Airport.

That’s compared to the 20 cancellations and 49 delays seen on Christmas Day.

Read: Holiday headache: More than 3,600 flights canceled, 5,700 delayed after Christmas

“So, we’re already delayed. I think we’re delayed an hour,” said Vince Hoeser.

Vince and his wife Melissa were among the 7.2 million anticipated holiday air travelers.

They kept an optimistic attitude while traveling with their pups, even though there was a chance they’d miss their connecting flight.

“It is what it is. Just, it’s probably going to be crazy in Atlanta too. So, but no, not worried about it at all. We’ll figure it out,” said Hoeser.

Larger airports had it even worse.

Read: Historic Buffalo blizzard kills more than 20, leaves thousands without power

Orlando International saw 419 delays and 219 cancellations as of 5 p.m., while Atlanta saw 548 delays and 234 cancellations.

Holiday air travel is expected to be up 14-percent compared to last year according to AAA.

Deanna Ventrella would have added to that statistic, as she was supposed to have traveled home to Minnesota from a work trip in Florida this weekend.

“And my Delta flights got canceled twice,” said Ventrella.

That meant she got to spend her Christmas in a Florida hotel room.

“So, Christmas didn’t work in my favor this year,” said Ventrella.

But wait… There’s more.

“I have a flight with Sun Country for my mom and my kids to come back to Orlando tomorrow. So, I have to cancel those plans,” said Ventrella.

Read: JAX airport to travelers: Parking lots full, consider being dropped off

However, even with all the hardships, there are some like Sean Espenship, who managed to find a holiday miracle.

“We got a direct flight. So, everyone up North may have some issues, but I think we’re good,” said Espenship.

So, not everyone here had it so bad, but it wasn’t only the flights causing headaches for travelers.

Arriving to and trying to leave the airport also presented some challenges.

First thing in the morning, JIA tweeted Economy Lots 1 and 3 were completely filled, with only limited parking available in Economy Lot 2 and the Daily Surface Lot.

The airport advised passengers to consider alternative means of transportation or to be dropped off instead of driving themselves.

New Jersey vacationer Joanne Mitchco described her flight into Jacksonville with one word.

“Perfect,” said Mitchco.

For Mitchco and her son Danny, parking wasn’t the problem, it was leaving.

When they arrived in Jacksonville, the rental car they’d reserved wasn’t available.

“They said that people haven’t been returning their cars,” said Mitchco.

Perhaps, due to people opting to drive home rather than chancing potential flight delays or cancellations.

Whatever the reason, Joanne and her son were stuck in the airport lobby, wishing the start of their vacation had gone as smoothly as the jazz music that rang through the building throughout the day.

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“We have four days for vacation and half of it is spent in the airport now,” said Mitchco.