Airlines try to keep up with demand as Irma worsens

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Airlines try to keep up with demand as Irma worsens. Sarah Bloomquist reports during Action News at 5 p.m. on September 7, 2017. (WPVI)

As people try to get out of Florida and find somewhere safe, airlines are trying to keep up with demand.

Action News spoke with some American Airlines passengers who arrived here in Philadelphia Thursday afternoon absolutely exhausted.

They went to the airport there yesterday - only to be delayed repeatedly because the airline told them they couldn't find a flight attendant.

They did not think they would make it out. With fewer and fewer flights, there is a growing sense of desperation from people trying to escape Irma's path.

These passengers arrived this afternoon on a flight from Miami - one of the final few departing the city as the airlines wind down flights to and from Florida. They described the scene at the airport there as chaotic.

"A lot of concerned of people that wanted to get out town. And they really didn't seem to have the personnel to man the flights. So it was a little freaky," said Jim Villa of Haddonfield, NJ.

In fact, these passengers were on a flight scheduled to arrive in Philadelphia Wednesday, but they told us American seemed to be having staffing problems as they work to end operations. The final American flight departs Miami just before 4 o'clock Friday afternoon.

"It was a nightmare with American. They had to put us up and then they delayed us - over and over and over again. I was supposed to be here yesterday," said Joyce Grimmer of Key Largo, Florida.

Villa added, "They were talking about sheltering us. It got that close."

When asked if he was relieved? He said, "Oh man - we're so happy to be home."

The Anzideo family was visiting Cuba, but with limited internet access they didn't quite grasp the severity of this storm. They got to Miami and met the mayhem at the airport.

Dominic Anzideo of Voorhees, NJ said she missed her first day of school.

"We got to the airport and then it was delayed, delayed, delayed. Feels good to be home. I'll tell you that much," she said.

Joclyn Almeyda drove 7 hours from Miami to Orlando with her kids - a drive that typically takes 3 1/2. She's been through hurricanes before. Like other airline passengers she told us - this time feels different.

"I just look at what's happening in Houston and other places, and I just feel like the storms are different. They're bigger. It's a little more dangerous now than I feel like it's never been," Almeyda said.

Many people here told us they have friends and relatives who are realizing they can't get gas, they can't get on a flight. They're realizing they will have to stay.

All the major airlines will be suspending operations to and from South Florida by Friday evening.

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