LAX travelers frustrated due to major delays on busy travel day

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles International Airport travelers were frustrated as many were stuck in traffic jams and others on planes Wednesday night -- one of the airport's busiest days in the holiday rush.

There were major traffic tie-ups outside the terminals, and out on the tarmacs, planes were left waiting for hours after landing.

"We arrived at 4:07 (p.m.) and got off the plane at 6:37 (p.m.). We were on the tarmac for two and a half hours," said traveler Steve Baumann, of Seattle.

A ground stop forced some flights to land at other airports -- from Ontario to Phoenix to San Francisco.

According to the LAX website, almost every incoming flight, starting in the late afternoon, was either delayed or diverted to another airport.

On other planes, passengers were trapped out on the runways as increased flights, construction and weather created the perfect storm for major tarmac tie-ups.

Outside the terminals was a similar situation as more than 100,000 vehicles were expected to pass through the Central Terminal area on Wednesday alone.

For travelers and crew, this holiday has many seeing red.

"Our pilot was telling us it would be like another 20 minutes. He had never seen so much airplanes on one track in a few years," said Tinshana Hill, a West Hollywood resident. "So, it took us a while to get to our gate but we're here now."

LAX spokesperson Katherine Alvarado said there were four main reasons for the gridlock. The Federal Aviation Administration mandated upgrades to runways at airports across the country, and the ongoing construction was hampering efforts to get flights to their gates after they land. Secondly, there is a 9.5 percent increase in the number of passengers traveling through LAX from the same date in 2015. Also, to meet the demand this year, most airlines added flights and routes into the airport, which caused more complications. Lastly, Dec. 21 is one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Delays were averaging more than three hours Wednesday night, and airport officials said the trouble may continue through Thursday morning.

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