Fire at Illinois FAA Center causes ripple effect in Indianapolis

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By: Liz Gelardi

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 26, 2014) - A line of passengers wrapped around the check-in area at the Indianapolis International Airport. The fire at an air traffic control center in suburban Illinois snarled travel plans locally and across the country.

The fire resulted in a dozen flights being diverted to Indianapolis. The airport had to deal with an influx of about 300 passengers who unexpectedly found themselves in Indy.

One of those travelers Tracy Barry was flying from North Carolina to attend her son's college graduation in  Minnesota. Barry was supposed to arrive in Minneapolis at 9 a.m. but remained stranded in the airport Friday afternoon. The mother was heartbroken because she knew there was no way she was going to make it to the graduation.

"I had to tell my son I won't be there and I won't have any pictures, his sister is here, his niece is here," said Barry.

Airlines tried to rebook passengers on alternate flights or place them on standby. Another dozen flights set to depart Indianapolis were also cancelled, some flights were delayed more than an hour.

"As you can imagine the airlines really weren't prepared to handle that sudden influx of passengers," said Carlo Bertolini, spokesperson for the Indianapolis International Airport.

Indianapolis air traffic controllers felt the effects too. The Indy air center had to take on some Chicago traffic. Extra controllers were brought in on overtime.