DIA Open Again After Blizzard, But Delays Remain

Update by Michael Roberts: At 7 a.m., Denver International Airport issued a new release about conditions at the facility.  Only two of six runways were open at that time, although DIA supervisors believe all of them will be ready to go before the morning is out.

Here's the latest, followed by our previous coverage.
Denver International Airport (DIA) resumed flight operations at 7 p.m. Wednesday with two open runways following a strong spring snow storm. Crews have been out all night clearing the remaining airfield surfaces, and we expect all six runways to be available this morning to air traffic. The airfield surfaces are in very good condition for aircraft. Landside crews continue to clear the airport's 40,000 parking spaces, side roads and Pena Boulevard. Pena is still slick in places and there are also still some disabled vehicles along the roadway, so drivers are asked to use extreme caution. All airport shuttles are operating normally.

The airport expects to operate an estimated 1,500 flights today and DIA will be very busy as people reschedule flights from yesterday. Passengers are encouraged to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to their flight and be prepared for the TSA security screening process. Passengers should also continue to confirm their flight status with their airline or at The airline ticket counters are also expected to be busy, so please check in online if possible.
Update by Michael Roberts, 5:31 a.m.: Yesterday, our Lindsey Bartlett told you about the indefinite closure of Denver International Airport for only the second time ever; see our previous coverage below.

DIA reopened at 7 p.m. last night, but that didn't mean it was business as usual.

As noted in an airport release also included here, just two runways of the six at DIA were flight-ready at the time of the reopening — and since a reported 1,328 flights were cancelled, working at less than full capacity wasn't ideal given the huge backlog.

Simply getting to the airport was a nightmare yesterday, as reflected in this photo of Pena Boulevard a Facebooker shared on the DIA page....

No wonder DIA spokesman Heath Montgomery was all over the airwaves yesterday afternoon advising those who had later flights to contact their airlines before making the drive even after Pena Boulevard was deemed passable again. Montgomery also encouraged those already at the terminal to stay put.

That's good advice for this morning, too, even though DIA expects operations to return to normal today.

Here's a DIA video showing one of the cleared runways shortly before the reopening:

The most recent DIA tweet reads: "Reminder: we are expecting heavy passenger traffic tomorrow. Arrive at least 2 hrs. in advance and check flight status w/airline."

Comments on the DIA Facebook page weren't particularly angry, despite the hardships, and some qualify as downright complimentary.

Take this one: "Thank you to all the DIA staff that are stuck there working doubles taking care of passengers and making sure everyone is safe. God bless you all!"

But on Twitter, a number of disgruntled folks vented their spleen.

Here's one particularly memorable example....

Continue for our previous coverage, including photos aplenty from yesterday's spring storm.

Original post by Lindsey Bartlett, 3:42 p.m. March 23: A travel ban in Denver? Say it isn't so! Denver International Airport, billed as the "all-weather airport," was closed, as were the roads leading to it, as of 12:34 p.m. today, March 23. The spring snowstorm, which has exceeded 24-inches of accumulation in some parts of the state, took the entire DIA team by surprise. The airport released this official statement shortly after noon today:

Denver International Airport has made the decision to close the airport until further notice. Weather and visibility are such that it is not safe for aircraft to arrive or depart at this time. Additionally, Pena Boulevard is currently impassable. Crews are working to clear Pena Blvd. and relieve some of the congestion but passengers should not plan on coming to the airport until further notice. For those passengers currently at the airport, we are asking you to stay put until conditions improve and Pena Boulevard is safe and passable. The airport will make announcements when Pena Boulevard is again safe for travel.

An update at 4 p.m. from Denver International Airport:

Denver International Airport remains closed due to weather and visibility. There are treacherous conditions on the airfield and no planes are departing or arriving. Outbound Peña Boulevard has reopened to all traffic - however, the exits from Peña Boulevard to 40th Avenue and 56th Avenue are blocked. Inbound traffic also remains blocked at this time. Airport shuttles to the Pikes Peak parking lot are not running at this time so passengers who have parked in that lot should remain in the terminal at this time. Drivers are urged to use extreme caution while driving as there is expected to be a rush of traffic and winter driving conditions
Those who made the trek early enough, when Peña Boulevard was still open, were stranded at the airport for most of the day. Updates have continued to roll in, including a statement on social media noting "Blowing snow as of 2 p.m." — with no apparent signs of stopping. Outbound Peña has opened as of 4 p.m. and the most recent update states the airport will resume flight operations at 7 p.m., but they caution dangerous road conditions and advise passengers arrive early. 

The final update released at 7 p.m. this evening reads:
Denver International Airport (DIA) will reopen and resume flight operations at 7 p.m. this evening.

However, it should be noted that many airlines have cancelled flights for the duration of today. So, passengers should check with their airline to confirm the status of their flight. The airport will resume operations with two open runways (DIA has six) and we expect to be fully operational by tomorrow morning. Passengers should be advised that tomorrow we are expecting heavy passenger traffic. Travelers should arrive at least two hours in advance of their flight, and also confirm their flight status with their airline.

Both inbound and outbound Peña Boulevard have reopened to all traffic, however some exits may still be blocked due to hazardous driving conditions. Drivers are asked to use extreme caution. Airport shuttles are operating between the terminal and the Pikes Peak shuttle lot, as well as to the east and west economy parking lots. The airport continues to thank passengers for their patience. We are also grateful to the local and national media for helping us reach our passengers with the latest information all day.
Several photos below capture the unprecedented DIA snow day, courtesy of Instagram. Enjoy. 

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Lindsey Bartlett is a writer, photographer, artist, Denver native and weed-snob. Her work has been published in Vanity Fair, High Times and Leafly, to name a few.
Contact: Lindsey Bartlett
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts