ST. LOUIS – Frustration mounts as passengers dealing with delays and cancellations wait around the carousel for their suitcases.
According to flight tracker FlightAware, 64% of Southwest’s flights have been canceled Tuesday, which is more than 2,600 flights.
A combination of staffing shortages and a severe winter storm meant some people’s holiday plans had to be canceled.
Mary Gilbert’s son, daughter-in-law, and their two children were supposed to fly in from Baltimore and spend Christmas together.
“Evidently, there’s FAA guidelines about how many crew members have to be on board,” Gilbert said. “They were one short, so they sent their bags here, but they didn’t send them here. My granddaughter is three, all her Christmas presents were in those bags. They had to run out to Walgreens on Christmas Day and try to buy some junk to just let her have a Christmas.”
There was a long line of people waiting for hours, trying to speak with someone at the Southwest Baggage Office.
“Both my suitcases are still in St. Louis, I don’t know if they’re on the plane, but they’re on the tarmac,” said Samantha Gill. “So, they’re not here and inaccessible as far as I can tell. So even when I get through this line, I still won’t be able to get to my bags.”
The Department of Transportation posted Tuesday on social media that it “was concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays and reports of a lack of prompt customer service.”
The DOT also said that it would investigate whether the airline is complying with its customer service plan.
“It was a lot of uncertainty, there were missing crew members, there’s a lot of difficulties with crews,” said Kevin Kloster. “So, they weren’t able to tell us for a while how long the delay would be.”
However, Chrissy Nardini said she is grateful for one off-duty flight attendant, otherwise, she said she would be stuck in Los Angeles until Jan. 3.
“I want to compliment Southwest because we had a flight attendant who volunteered and stepped up when we had only three of the four attendants there,” she said. “And she stepped up even though she was off-duty.”
According to FlightAware, 61% of flights from Southwest on Wednesday are canceled.