Travelers trying to make their way home Sunday from Budweiser’s Whatever USA — or Crested Butte — faced serious hindrances after a weekend of beer-drinking and partying.
Attendees reported missing their flights, long waits at the airport and missed connections.
“There’s literally 1,000 young drunk/hungover kids in this Gunnison, Colo. airport that’s the size of a gas station,” Taylor Howard, an event attendee, posted Sunday on Twitter.
Other attendees blamed the delay on their cohorts who tried to illegally pack marijuana for their return trips home.
“People in #WhateverUSA were trying to take Colorado’s legal plant back home, where it’s not legal,” Jordan Howenstine wrote on Twitter. “Now we’re all stuck here. #youdontneedweed”
— Jordan Howenstine (@AirlessJordan) September 7, 2014
Under U.S. federal law it is never legal to fly with marijuana, regardless of how legally it was purchased.
Authorities in Crested Butte said the actual gathering — which included concerts, celebrities and, of course, lots and lots of beer — went off without any major problems. It wasn’t until the end when attendees started preparing to leave on chartered jets that the headaches began.
“With more than 1,200 consumers attending Whatever, USA, from all points across the county, it takes time to get through a smaller airport,” Nick Kelly, Bud Light spokesman, said in a statement. “We have a process in place to have all of our guests make the return trip home as safely and smoothly as possible.”
Kelly declined to release how many guests were affected by the delays. Travelers who spoke with The Denver Post as well as a federal aviation official said that delays arose with security screening as people tried to board flights.
“The Transportation Security Administration was contacted early this afternoon after a private security company — hired by three private charter companies — could not keep up with their screening requirements for departing passengers who attended [the event],” said Ross Feinstein, a TSA spokesman.
Many attendees used social media to complain about the delays, saying they were “stranded” at the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport.
One person tweeted that travelers were trying to make their way to Denver to board connecting flights while another said she was stuck at the airport in Gunnison for five hours. Others posted that they missed their flights altogether.
“I don’t know exactly what happened,” McKenna Reagan, from St. Paul, Minn., told The Post. “I know a lot of people were upset.”
The controversial weekend event — which ran Friday to Sunday — was kept secret from Crested Butte’s residents until town leaders revealed the gathering in recent weeks. Anheuser-Busch paid the town $500,000 to transform the mountain community into a Budweiser paradise as part of the beer giant’s “Up For Whatever” ad campaign. An estimated 10,000 people passed through the town over the weekend, according to Gunnison County Sheriff Rick Besecker.