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Local Businesses Busy from Stranded Flight Passengers in Duluth

Updated: April 13, 2019 10:49 PM

Local restaurants and hotels were busier than usual when flight passengers were stranded in Duluth Thursday due to the April snowstorm causing three flights to divert in Duluth’s International Airport.

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The flights came from Chicago Midway, Toronto, and Saskatoon.

"It gave us a rush of people so we had to scramble to make sure we had rooms,” Michael Reiland, the front desk manager for the Duluth North Country Inn & Suites By Radisson, said.

The Country Inn & Suites hotel saw an increase in costumers but was prepped to house flight passengers who were stranded in Duluth.

"Once we heard that they would be starting to need a night to stay we were able to get that organized with the front desk staff that we have to get them all checked in properly,” Reiland said.

Within walking distance from the hotel is Outback Steakhouse which didn't expect to see many costumers the day of the storm but little did they know that stranded passengers would make their way to the restaurant.

"I know it did cut a lot of our regular patrons short and they weren’t coming in quite as often but as soon as flights started getting cancelled that's when we saw a lot of people from the hotel coming in,” Bjorn Carlson, a managing partner for Outback Steakhouse, said. "We probably saw 30 to 40 extra people coming from the hotel. A lot of people were on their phones trying to reschedule and replan their flights out."

Groome Transportation, a local airport shuttle service, had drivers shuttling visitors back and forth to hotels, and the Duluth and Minneapolis airport.

"We were probably handling around 275 to 300 people on a day like that,” Steve Christen, a driver for Groome Transportation said. "We had a massive amount of people that had to wait two to three hours to get the next shuttle.”

Most cab services weren’t running the days of the snowstorm so Steve was on a busy shuttle duty schedule but said this was something the company was expecting as a result of the storm.

"Every industry has their two or three weeks when it’s tough. Our tough time comes with weather,” Christen said.

Even though the storm wasn't an ideal situation for many, local businesses were determined to help guests and make their temporary stay as smooth as possible.

"Even with all the snow and stuff, we were able to get everybody where they needed to go so it was a successful night,” Reiland said.

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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