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Power Outage Closes Midway Airport For Over 4 Hours

Midway Outage

Power to the runway lights at Midway International Airport was out for about four and a half hours Thursday night and early Friday morning, forcing passengers to sleep on cots in the terminal. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 06/29/12 7:55 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Power has been restored to the runway lights at Midway International Airport, after a night that left passengers stranded and miserable for hours.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the outage occurred at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, and the airport was shut down around 9:10 p.m. The outage had already affected 50 flights by 10 p.m., according to Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

Even though the outage lasted only a few hours, 85 flights and thousands of passengers were affected in all.

The airport reopened at 1:19 a.m. Friday, and power was restored shortly afterward.

The Chicago Department of Aviation says an airport equipment problem caused the lights to go out. ComEd says it was not an issue with not an issue with its equipment, although the utility worked with the airport to try to solve the problem.

It could have been worse if the outage had occurred earlier in the day.

Because the runway lights went out, the airport had to bring back all the planes to the terminal building to allow passengers to deplane. Many planes never took off or landed.

As a result, some passengers spent the night at the airport, which provided them with cots.

One woman who had been about to fly to Indianapolis spoke to CBS 2 on the phone late last night. She was stuck on the plane and runway for three hours.

“I did a double take, and I said, ‘That can’t be possible,’ and I watched it go up… and then the airplane stopped and there was silence, and I went, ‘Oh we’re probably going to have a problem,” said Holly Georgell.

Georgell expressed frustration in having to sit on the taxiway for an extended period of time, rather than the terminal, which never lost power.

“They did come around and offer water to people, but they haven’t been forthcoming on anything else,” she said.

Another traveler, Michael Yeoman, was stuck on a plane that was supposed to be headed to Pittsburgh for three hours, before he was returned to the terminal to spend the night on a cot.

“Tired, upset, aggravated, but it is what it is,” Yeoman said. He was to fly out of Midway at 7 a.m., but will land in Philadelphia and will have to drive all the way across Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh.

Travelers also had their say on social media.

“Recording just welcomed us to Midway. We all laughed and applauded before telling the unseen voice where to go,” one person tweeted.

Even though the airport is fully back open, officials advise that travelers flying out of Midway on Friday morning check their flight status before arriving. There appeared to be only one delay as of 5 a.m.

Also, extra staff at the airport will be on hand to deal with the larger passenger volume at the airport.