Couple's New Zealand get-away halted by Charleston ice storm

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The extreme weather conditions shut down the Charleston International Airport runways Wednesday morning, but they reopened in the afternoon.

The shutdown was just enough time though to disappoint one married couple who had been planning a New Zealand get-away for the past 8 months.

It's the icy, slippery roads and closed bridges that forced travelers to take extra precautions when preparing for their flight's departures.

"We realized that the bridges might be a barrier to even getting here this morning so we came out to the Holiday Inn on International Drive so that we'd be right next to the airport, so at least we could get to the airport," said Arnold Karig.

Karig and his wife had been planning their special trip for months.

He said when they got to the airport, they noticed there were no waits to check in and many of the carousels were not swinging luggage around the belt. Charleston's airport was empty.

"We got here this morning, the flight had been canceled so we're hoping a plane makes it in out of Atlanta so we can get Charleston to Atlanta and further to LAX," he said.

The Karigs' flight was one of 54 to be canceled in and out of the airport.

"The best thing right now for people is if you have a scheduled flight for today is to call your air carrier. Obviously the schedule today is going to be iffy based on the weather and conditions of the runway. Nothing would be worse than to get here to find out that the runways are closed and you flight has been canceled and you have to find other transportation to get back where you came from," said Bill New, the deputy director of airports for the aviation authority.

That's not exactly good news to hear for people whose flights have been canceled, including the Karigs.

I'm going to sit down on the airport floor and cry," he said.

Then there's Bill Busik, who was on his way to enjoy a golf tournament in Myrtle Beach. Now he's stuck in the airport waiting on his friends, who chose not to drive with him, and wait on their flights.{}

"I drove to Charleston fromTampa on my way to Myrtle Beach as opposed to flying because all the flightswere canceled between Tampa, Atlanta and Myrtle," he said. "If I wasn't waiting on them, I'd be in Myrtle already. Sometimes driving is better than flying becauseat least you have control."

For Busik, driving may have worked, but for Shirley Nelson, driving was not an option.{}

She says she was on her way to pick up her daughter who is stuck in the Atlanta airport. Then her sister called with more bad news.{}

"My sister told us that itis real terrible down there because a lot of cars got stuck down there and theybeen stuck ever since yesterday," she said. And when she told us that we went as far asColumbia and turned right back around and came back to Charleston, and I let mydaughter know we cannot take that ride -- its best for her to just wait till theystop canceling the flights."

There aren't may people who like their flights to be canceled, but Curtis Waldron says the cancellation is working out in his favor. He's waiting on his wife to arrive.{}

"It's been a mess but itactually worked out where she came home early," he said.{}

Busik, though, says he has only two words for his friends when they arrive: "About time."

Though the runways are back open, New said the airlines are still working out problems in the schedules from all the delayed and canceled flights. New hopes everything is back to normal on Thursday.{}

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