Snowstorm wreaks havoc on Colorado agents


DENVER -- Travel agencies in central Colorado sat out business most of April 11, while the area fought its way out of 10 to 15 inches of snow.

Denver International Airport closed at 5:30 a.m., but re-opened midday. The airport in Colorado Springs also was closed and highway routes between the cities were practically impassable.

"The airport opened at 1:30 [p.m.]," said a spokeswoman for Frontier Airlines, which uses Denver as a hub. "We were checking people in around 11 a.m. The snowplows were on the ramp all morning."

United Airlines, which also has a hub in Denver, resumed operations in the late afternoon. A spokeswoman for United said the carrier was urging passengers to call ahead to find out if flights would be running or to log onto the company's Web site.

Agents had calls from passengers because most people were too busy digging out cars or otherwise dealing with the weather to go shopping for travel. "It's been rather slow because people don't want to go out in these conditions," said Joe Kaapana, manager of AAA Colorado Springs.

"There are only two of us in here today because of the storm," said Becky DeWitt, manager of Sunrise Travel in Colorado Springs. "Some major school districts are shut down. The phone calls just don't happen."

"With the airport closed, there's nothing you can do to get out," said Mary Greer, director of public relations for AAA Colorado.

"Many people just didn't show up to work today," said Ingrid Hartley, owner of Concord Travel in Denver, "but we had some warning that this would happen so there was no surprise."

"International travelers would have been the most affected by this storm because nothing was coming in or out of Denver, but luckily we didn't get too many of these clients leaving today," said Donna Hutcheson, a senior agent at Travel Inc. in Denver.

Power failures struck in much of the area. AAA Colorado had to cancel its vendor show Wednesday at the Radisson Stapleton Plaza near Denver due to low turnout. Elevators stopped functioning and the front desk went into manual check-in operations and emergency lighting.

Michele SanFilippo contributed to this report.

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