Travel troubles continue as Southwest Airlines operates one-third of normal schedule

"Honestly I don't want to fly again ever," said one traveler arriving in Philly from Florida.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Travel troubles continue as Southwest operates 1/3 of normal schedule
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A massive air travel nightmare continued Tuesday in the wake of last week's winter storm.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A massive air travel nightmare continued Tuesday in the wake of last week's winter storm.

While many airlines had cancellations, Southwest Airlines had the most. The airline canceled 60% of flights nationwide on Tuesday, according to Flight Aware.

In a statement from Southwest released Tuesday afternoon, the airline apologized to customers and employees for the days-long ordeal that's still ongoing.

Southwest is operating about a third of its normal flights for several more days while they try to get back on track.

Chuck Baum is trying to get home to Nebraska. But he learned his Southwest flight out of Philadelphia International Airport was canceled when he tried to check in.

"So we're pretty much stuck here," said Baum. "They did give us some vouchers. However, the next available flight out of here is Saturday."

About 80% of Tuesday's Southwest flights were canceled at Philadelphia International Airport, according to Flight Aware.

The ticketing counter was pretty quiet, save for a few passengers who thought their flights would take off but didn't.

"I've been keeping up with my phone and looking to see if my flight was canceled but they didn't let me know or update me on anything, so I just found out when I came to try and leave," said Evelyn Campbell of Chicago.

Poor planning, bad luck, systemic challenges -- Why is Southwest really canceling flights?

An airport spokesperson says all flight issues are handled directly by the airlines, but added as other airports impacted by severe weather resume operations, things should get back on track later this week.

"We're looking better today than we were at the end of last week and over the weekend, and I think as the weather gets better it will be better at the end of the week and over the weekend," said Heather Redfern, Public Affairs Manager for Philadelphia International Airport.

The Gregg family finally made it to their destination by rebooking with another airline.

"To be honest with you, the only people that seem to be canceling flights are Southwest," said John Gregg, who just arrived in Philadelphia from Tampa Bay, Fl.

"Honestly I don't want to fly again ever," Gregg said.

President Joe Biden responded Tuesday, tweeting that his administration is working with the Dept. of Transportation to hold airlines accountable.

In a response to an inquiry from Action News, a spokesperson for Southwest encouraged people to submit receipts from any canceled flights to be considered for reimbursement.

Southwest customers feeling hopeless

Passengers say they are out of answers.

"It's been nothing but a nightmare. There were so many bags, they said 'your bags will go to your destination' so they've been here since Christmas Eve," said William Kennedy of Mount Laurel, New Jersey.

Kennedy and his wife were due back in Philadelphia on Christmas Eve. Their bags made it, but they did not.

"It was bad enough to be in Orlando to have to get a hotel, buy clothes, food and everything, but luckily we had means to do it," Kennedy explained.

While the Kennedys were due back home to Philadelphia on Christmas Eve, Kathirin Tairo and her husband were expected to take off from Philadelphia. Three days later they are still here.

"My flight is already canceled again, my ticket canceled twice, and they told me now it's not because of weather obviously - because many other companies working normally - they said it's technical issues," said Tairo.

She said her and her husband have called Southwest and no one picks up.

It's a frustration shared by many passengers.

"We can not do anything. That is the feeling, you know? Nobody is working; we are calling and calling," said Jermani Ojeba-Ludena of Austin.

It was a miracle though for one arriving Southwest flight from Orlando.

"They said this was the only flight that was actually on time that took off - and scheduled on time - out of all the flights coming out of Southwest," said Sheryl Gundersen of King of Prussia.