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Weather puts Dallas flights on hold

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DALLAS -- A fresh snow storm in North Texas on Friday threatened to leave fans traveling to the Super Bowl stranded far from Sunday night's big game.

The snow caused about 380 inbound flights to be canceled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport by Friday afternoon, and it shut down commercial flights at smaller Dallas Love Field for several hours.

It was one last blitz from nature against organizers of the big game, who have struggled all week with ice and freezing temperatures in north Texas. The snow tapered off by early Friday afternoon, and airlines counted on a weather forecast that called for clearing skies and temperatures rising into Saturday.

At DFW Airport, one of the nation's busiest, spokesman David Magana said they expected to handle the full load of arrivals -- including charter and private jets -- Friday night and Saturday. DFW's four main runways stayed open throughout the day, he said.

American Airlines, the dominant carrier at DFW Airport, expected Friday to be the busiest day for travelers attending the Super Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"We are putting extra effort to operate our flights in from Chicago today to keep the Super Bowl-oriented traffic moving," said Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines.

American scheduled 12 extra flights for Friday from Pittsburgh and airports near Green Bay to handle people coming to the game.

If those flights were canceled, stranded fans could have struggled to get to the game because later flights heading to Dallas from the two teams' regions were booked solid. Smith said, however, that the airline expected to accommodate the football fans. He said all of Friday's Chicago-Dallas and Pittsburgh-Dallas flights were running normally, including the extra ones.

Southwest Airlines expected to cancel 60 flights Friday at its home airport of Dallas Love Field, although it wasn't clear whether much of that traffic was Super Bowl-related.

The city-run airport, which was shuttered earlier this week by an ice storm, closed its runways to commercial airliners all of Friday morning, although private planes continued to operate, said airport spokesman Jose Luis Torres.

Southwest planned to run four extra flights on Friday, with return legs Monday, between Dallas and both Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. Southwest expected them all to make it to Dallas, said spokesman Brad Hawkins. Passengers on one of those flights waited out a delay of several hours at Pittsburgh International Airport, where American also operated four flights and Delta and US Airways one each to DFW Airport on Friday. "They all got out," said airport spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny.

The airport threw an impromptu pep rally with a keyboard player, Steelers fans' "terrible towels" and extra kiosks selling Steelers merchandise. And, Jenny said, "There was a lot to eat and drink."

One of the event organizers said most fans had already made it to Dallas -- at least the ones staying at hotels that required a minimum four-night stay. "They came in yesterday. Good thing they did," said Bill Lively, president of the North Texas Super Bowl host committee.

Visitors who were able to reach the Dallas area encountered icy roads, especially on secondary streets, that made driving hazardous.

Some VIPs have been unimpressed with efforts to deal with the ice and snow. Kurt Warner, a Super Bowl MVP quarterback for the St. Louis Rams, said the region looked unprepared to handle the bad weather.

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