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Dozens stranded in Bay Area as Direct Air suspends flights | News

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Dozens stranded in Bay Area as Direct Air suspends flights
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LAKELAND, Fla. -- Thousands of travelers were scrambling Tuesday as Direct Air announced plans to suspend service until at least May 15, effective immediately.

The airline flies to 17 destinations, including Lakeland Linder Airport.

Over 100 people were scheduled to board a Monday afternoon flight from Lakeland to Springfield, IL, but it never took off. "We sat and sat, waited and waited. The airline people couldn't really tell us what was going on," said traveler Linda Booker.

The cancellation left dozens of passengers stranded in Lakeland without a lot of answers. Even two Direct Air employees at the airport told 10 News they had no idea this was coming. "The plane had been cleared and readied. The baggage had been loaded," said Tonya Cathey, who has been with the airline since July. "We were told by corporate to hold off. They had issues going on."

Airport Director Gene Conrad says they were told not to put fuel in the plane, likely because the airline wasn't able to pay for it.

"We're very concerned. It's disappointing," Conrad said.

Stranded passengers said they were looking for flights out of Tampa or Orlando, but had to pay around $1,000 for a one-way ticket. Others were making the 18-hour drive back to Springfield, as they admitted regret for choosing what they thought was a low-cost carrier.

"I guess you get what you pay for," Booker said.

Direct Air released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying service was being shut down through May 15 in order to "address operational matters." It also added the airline is "evaluating strategic alternatives."

The best advice at this point is to call the airline and airport, or check both their websites.

Ticket holders were told to contact their credit card companies for refunds.

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