Southwest travelers stranded, frustrated after flights canceled

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – A major airline is in hot water again after canceling nearly 1,000 flights this past weekend. Southwest Airlines is now on the defense as travelers are stuck across the country. It’s a trend that’s known far too well to Southwest travelers in the last year, as the airline saw potentially record-high cancelations in 2021.

“This flight home will be the last time we ever fly with Southwest,” Jessica Waters said.

Waters and her family started their trip to Florida on Saturday. Starting in Philadelphia, this was their first trip since the pandemic began two years ago.

“We left Philadelphia on a direct flight, somewhat. We weren’t supposed to get off the flight. It was gonna stop in St. Louis. So, once we got to St. Louis, they forced us to get off the plane and then they told us ‘sorry but your flight is canceled’,” Waters said.

Waters’ flight to Florida was one of more than 600 flights canceled by Southwest Saturday. Four hundred more were canceled Sunday. The airline claims technology maintenance and weather issues were the cause.

“I feel so helpless, and just the way they handled it was unacceptable,” Waters said.

Her partner seconded that and said they were stuck on the phone with Southwest customer service for more than four hours.

“There’s no sympathy. The lack of empathy is completely gone it seems like,” Rich Benson said.

Benson and Waters ended up canceling their entire trip to Florida. Meanwhile, some St. Louisans who are in Florida now are going to great lengths just to make it home.

“Last night at that same time, we booked a car, a rental. It was sold out at first, and then we booked it through a different airport,” Jena Preiss and Maddie Broz explained.

Preiss and Broz were in Tampa for a bachelorette trip. They said nearly everyone on their trip who flew Southwest had their returning flights canceled without the airline rescheduling them.

“There are no available flights on any airline until Wednesday. There are a few, but all of them are 20-hour travel time or $2,000,” Preiss said.

Preiss, Broz and some friends now making the 15-hour trek by car back to St. Louis. Both girls said they believe the airline owes them an explanation.

“It is a little frustrating they’re not really doing much to help us get back to our final destination and our home,” Preiss said.

Several passengers told News 4 Sunday Southwest made minimal efforts to accommodate travelers during the flight fluster.

“They were really dismissive. It was like ‘I’m sorry there’s nothing we can do to help you’. They did do the hotel voucher and to the Best Western, which was completely booked and we couldn’t stay there anyways, and had to find our own accommodation,” Waters said.

News 4 asked Southwest how they were accommodating passengers stuck at airports but the company did not specify.

By Sunday evening, there weren’t any cancellations at Lambert International Airport. Most flights out of St. Louis were just delayed.

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