PARIS — Hundreds of travelers in Europe got their own special Christmas present — an actual plane flight Saturday after spending the night curled up on hard airport floors in Brussels and Paris.
Air traffic returned to nearly normal Saturday at Paris' main airport, where hundreds were stuck overnight and personnel handed out Christmas puppets and chocolates to stranded families.
Snowfall and severe shortages of deicing fluid meant hundreds of flights were canceled at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport and other European airports Friday. But sunny skies and two shipments of deicing fluid from the United States helped Charles de Gaulle rebound.
"There were a couple of people screaming and shouting and fighting, but we all handle stress and problems differently," said Gigi Zagora, a 27-year-old from Johannesburg, South Africa, stuck overnight at the Paris airport. "(I sought a) certain type of peace to say, 'OK, well, there is nothing I can do.' "
Flight screens showed only a few delays Christmas Day in Paris. Children who slept in terminals overnight clutched their new puppets and with other weary travelers eagerly lined up to board.
In Brussels, about 500 stranded passengers spent Christmas Eve at the airport after 10 inches of snow fell early Friday, the heaviest snowstorm in the Belgian capital since 1964.
"I've never had such Christmas before," said Ron Van Kooe, who slept in the terminal. "It's one not to forget, actually. But also a lesson for the future to never book a flight on this date."
A Brussels airport spokesman said Saturday afternoon that remaining stranded passengers were on their way out.
Unusually large amounts of snow in some western European cities have caused sweeping shutdowns and delays. London and Paris, not as accustomed to flying planes in below-freezing temperatures, buckled under the snow.