Snow delays travel for some heading to LGBT conference

Major delays for flights connecting through Atlanta

by Matt Comer  Editor  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: January 29, 2014 in News

A Delta screen at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in February 2010, when similar weather caused wide delays and cancellations. Photo Credit: . Licensed CC.

A Delta screen at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in February 2010, when similar weather caused wide delays and cancellations. Photo Credit: nesnet, via Flickr. Licensed CC.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —  Tuesday’s snow and ice storm which blanketed most of the southeast has resulted in delays or other travel complications for some local LGBT leaders heading to Houston, Texas, for Creating Change, the annual conference of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.

Predictions that Charlotte would be buried under several inches of snow didn’t quite turn out that way. The Queen City saw an inch or so of accumulation from yesterday’s late-arriving snow storm. But, other parts of the region were facing higher snow counts this morning.

Ryan Wilson, SC Equality’s executive director, and his husband, Shehan Welihindha, saw their flight plans cancelled yesterday. They are flying Delta and connecting in Atlanta, where the airline has been forced to cancel nearly 1,000 flights.

Wilson and Welihindha arrived at the Columbia airport early Wednesday morning to get on a flight as soon as possible. At press time, they were still waiting.

“We are now 24 hours behind our original departure time,” Wilson said, noting airline staff told him the “Atlanta terminal doesn’t have the ground crew to move planes away from gates because crews there are stuck in traffic.”

Ice and snow in Atlanta caused gridlock on local highways, with even some students still stranded at schools or on school busses.

Wilson said a group of volunteers and leaders with Columbia’s Harriet Hancock LGBT Center were driving to Houston. They have been stuck in the Atlanta gridlock since 9:30 p.m. last night.

Justin Wise, also from Columbia, managed to slip out of town yesterday. His flight had originally been scheduled for today, but his travel agent tipped him off on Tuesday and managed to get him on a flight yesterday afternoon. Still, the unexpected travel change left Wise without a hotel room. He was able to stay with a friend who’d already arrived in Houston.

Other leaders don’t think their flights will be affected, though they’re staying glued to flight updates.

Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro said his flight from Greensboro is scheduled for later this evening. He’s connecting through Charlotte and steering clear of Atlanta. Charlotte’s Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, also said he doesn’t expect delays. One of his staff members has already made it to Houston.

The annual Creating Change attracts thousands of LGBT community activists, organizers and leaders from across the country and world. This year’s conference is focusing on HIV/AIDS issues and transgender equality. Laverne Cox of “Orange is the New Black” will keynote the conference, where Executive Director Rea Carey will also deliver her annual State of the Movement speech. The conference begins today and runs through Sunday. Learn more at creatingchange.org.