Missoulian: Missoula airport: Flight added for Griz game; weather causes delays over weekend

by David Erickson

It looks like Griz fans hoping to see the University of Montana football team play in the national NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision championship will get at least a few more chances to travel to Dallas for the title game on Jan. 7.

On Monday, Missoula Montana Airport director Brian Ellestad confirmed that Delta Airlines has added a nonstop flight from Missoula to the Dallas Fort Worth airport (DFW) to accommodate additional demand.

The flight will leave Missoula on Saturday, Jan. 6 and return on Monday, Jan. 8, Ellestad said. The airplane will be a 132-seat A319 Airbus.

The Griz will play the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits at noon Mountain Time on Sunday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

As of Monday morning, Delta Airlines’ website was offering the nonstop flight to Dallas from Jan. 6-8 for about $1,500 per ticket.

Over the weekend, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester had sent a letter to the CEOs of many major airlines in the country urging them to add flights from Montana to Dallas for the game.

The airport in Missoula was hit with some inclement weather that caused quite a bit of disruption for travelers over the weekend. Ellestad said there were five flight cancellations, three flights that had to be diverted to other airports and multiple flights delayed.

One flight from Salt Lake City to Missoula was forced to turn around as it approached Missoula because of heavy fog. The flight returned to Salt Lake, and passengers in Missoula had to stay overnight here and then their flight was delayed for hours again on Sunday.

Another flight from Seattle to Missoula was canceled on Saturday because the fog here was too dangerous for landing.

That means all the people who would have caught the return flight to Seattle also had their flights canceled. The same flight was cancelled again on Sunday.

Some Missoula-bound passengers flew to Bozeman on Sunday.

“Lots of delays due to flights diverting and being held and coming in the following day,” Ellestad explained. “Right now, we have last night’s (Minneapolis-St. Paul) arrival that just landed along with two United Airlines aircrafts, that could not get in yesterday, just land. Sounds like the worst is behind us at least for now.”