Southwest Airlines cancels thousands of flights around the holidays

Published: Dec. 28, 2022 at 6:21 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Holiday traveling mixed with massive winter storms can make for lots of flight delays and cancelations, but as the weather subsided, the cancelations have continued.

The severe weather that wreaked havoc on holiday trips, caused the cancelation of more than 3,000 trips nationwide. More than 80% of those flights were Southwest Airlines flights, according to FlightAware’s tracking services.

“One cancelation after another, after another, after another,” said Amanda Henley Phillips, a traveler recounting her experience.

As other airlines got back on track and rebooked and rescheduled flights, Southwest canceled another 2,500 flights on Wednesday and more than 1,400 on Thursday. It became apparent to travelers this was no longer a weather issue.

“They didn’t tell us it was canceled until an hour after we were supposed to be back in Denver,” said Madison Baczuk, a traveler who was stranded in Minnesota.

Along with canceled flights stranding passengers hoping to enjoy the holidays, travelers say Southwest did not offer help for hotels, necessities, or emergency travel plans. Many offered flight vouchers, not even a refund, according to travelers.

“We have spent over $3,000 thus far, just trying to get home,” said Henley Phillips.

Henley Phillips experienced six cancelations throughout Arizona, Chicago, and Tennessee, never making it to her New York destination. She spent an estimated $7,000 including flight tickets, hotels, toiletries, food, clothes and more.

While many are still stranded and having trouble getting home, Thomas Jacksha and Madison Baczuk’s story does have a happy ending.

“We actually ended up meeting some strangers from where we live, and then they had a family car and were like, ‘You can come with us!’” said Thomas Jacksha, a traveler who was stranded in Minnesota.

Jacksha and Baczuk stood in line for hours while their flight was delayed and then canceled, but while they waited, they did make friends along the way and say they are still friends with the family they caught a ride with back to Colorado.

Unlike Jacksha and Baczuk, Henley Phillips has not been reimbursed for her flights, and she hopes to be compensated for her hotel stays, fuel, and more.

According to FlightAware, Southwest flight cancelations accounted for more than 70% of all flight cancelations in the holiday week.