'I wanted the flight to be canceled': Travelers arrive at O'Hare from warmer climes

  • A Hawaiian shirt-wearing traveler found himself ill-prepared for the polar vortex Wednesday after arriving at O'Hare International Airport.

      A Hawaiian shirt-wearing traveler found himself ill-prepared for the polar vortex Wednesday after arriving at O'Hare International Airport. Doug T. Graham | Staff Photographer

  • Frigid weather provided an unwelcome greeting Wednesday for travelers arriving at O'Hare International Airport from warmer locations.

      Frigid weather provided an unwelcome greeting Wednesday for travelers arriving at O'Hare International Airport from warmer locations. Doug T. Graham | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/31/2019 8:23 AM

As bad as dealing with the dangerous cold has been for suburbanites, the slide down the thermometer has at least been a gradual one.

But for travelers arriving Wednesday at O'Hare International Airport from parts of the country devoid of slippery ice and painful wind, the change was practically immediate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Throughout baggage claim underdressed travelers, some in Hawaiian shirts, could be seen tearing through their checked luggage for more suitable attire.

San Francisco resident Andriy Kryvoruka retrieved a large fur-lined hat from his bag before facing the cold.

Kryvoruka came to Chicago for vacation and is next heading to visit friends in Indiana. He got an email from the airline Monday warning of the coming chill.

"So we're thinking maybe we'll cancel and maybe go to San Diego or maybe Vegas, you know, somewhere warm," Kryvoruka said with a laugh. "But then we figured well, we haven't seen the snow in a while, let's go."

Kryvoruka said he went all over San Francisco looking for winter gear for the trip.

"I needed to buy more stuff, definitely, but they don't have the stuff for this weather at all," Kryvoruka said.

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He said he was shocked to read that the wind chill in Chicago was the coldest it had been in a generation.

"San Francisco is not too warm, but it's not this cold," Kryvoruka said, noting that it was 60 degrees when they took off Wednesday morning.

By Wednesday afternoon, the abysmal conditions led airlines to cancel 1,526 flights at O'Hare.

For Chicago resident Nasser Houshangi -- who flew home Wednesday morning after visiting family in Orange County, California -- that number was one too few.

"It was the first time in my life I wanted the fight to be canceled," Houshangi said before grabbing his luggage and heading out into the cold.

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