The terminal was a zoo, lines everywhere, and the AC seriously underperforming. The causes of the mess were, essentially, twofold. First, it is the Christmas season and many people travel. Second and more important is the giant cold snap dominating the middle of the country, the so-called "Arctic express."
With OHare, Denver and other northern airports closed or nearly so, many travelers were perforce flying a southern route through Houston or Dallas. Our bottom line: Our flight leaving Ft. Lauderdale was running late enough we probably would not make our connection in Houston for SF. And, there were no seats available on later flights today for the Houston-SF leg, all full.
The result: we overnight in Ft. Lauderdale and fly out tomorrow before dawn on a nonstop to SF. So we are doing a Holiday Inn, and have notified Budget that we'll need the car tomorrow, not today. Honestly, I'm not sorry. It gives me another day to recuperate from my cold.
The two ladies from LA were booked on our original flight this afternoon but had the same problem we had - no flight beyond Houston. Travel can be a mixed blessing.