CHICAGO (AP) — Travelers stranded by the shutdown of a suburban Chicago air traffic control facility expressed frustration Friday and amazement that the closure of a single facility could cause so much disruption to the nation’s air network.

Friday’s fire at the facility in Aurora forced the closure of Midway and O’Hare international airports for hours. Authorities say the fire was deliberately set by a contract employee.

At O’Hare, long lines formed at ticket counters, and some passengers simply gave up and returned home.

Brothers Glenn and Gary Campbell, of suburban Chicago, had planned to travel to the Orlando, Florida, area to attend their father’s 80th birthday party. Instead, they settled for refunds.

“That it is so easy to disrupt the system is disturbing,” said Gary Campbell, a carpenter from Crystal Lake. “They need to see how to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.”

John Kois, 36, of Seattle, had planned to spend a weekend with his girlfriend in Detroit. The financial analyst cut his losses and decided to rent a car and drive the four hours.

“What are you going to do?” said Kois, waiting to retrieve bags he had checked in before the flights were cancelled. “You make the best of it.”

Jon Sciarrini said his homebound flight to Dallas had been delayed, and he didn’t know whether he should wait or try to arrange another flight.

“It’s pretty frustrating — a little like being in purgatory,” the IT specialist said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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