Mass Southwest Airlines cancellations strain travelers, cause chaos at airports

Mass Southwest Airlines cancellations strain travelers, cause chaos at airports

Travelers across California were stranded at airports from Los Angeles to San Francisco on Monday after widespread cancellations by Southwest Airlines disrupted holiday plans.

Frustrated fliers, including those at LAX, reported hours-long lines, lost luggage and unstaffed flights after most Southwest routes were canceled or delayed — with some told not to expect a flight home for days.

Those on interstate flights scrambled for rental cars, opting to make long drives instead of waiting it out at the airport.

What was supposed to be an hour-and-a-half flight from Sacramento to Los Angeles on Monday for Matt Grippi turned into a six-hour drive. He was rushing to make an international flight scheduled for Tuesday and didn’t trust Southwest to get him to LAX in time.

His only options were layovers as long as 26 hours costings thousands of dollars, he said.

“Every single possible flight that I could’ve taken today to get home was canceled,” Grippi said. “Communication from Southwest has been horrendous. Not sure I can ever trust them again.”

In a statement on Monday, Southwest Airlines pointed to “extreme winter weather” across the country and called the disruptions “unacceptable.”

The company said it was working to re-position flight crews in order to “return to normal reliability,” but signaled that flights could continue to see changes through the New Year’s holiday.

“On the other side of this, we’ll work to make things right for those we’ve let down, including our employees,” the company said.

Mike Bolen said in a tweet that his flight at Oakland International Airport was canceled because of a lack of a crew and called the situation a “total collapse.”

“I fly a lot and never seen anything like this. Every flight is cancelled/’delayed,’” he said.

Twitter user Maria Wiles said she waited eight hours at San Francisco International Airport only to find out that her flight was canceled, after arriving there at 5: 30 a.m on Monday.

Maya Polon was one of the few Southwest customers to make it out of the Hollywood Burbank Airport on Monday after her original flight on Sunday was canceled twice. She spent three hours at the airport trying to get a new flight after the Southwest website and app failed.

“The only way to get rebooked was to go to the airport and speak to a human,” Polon, 28, said.

Meanwhile, her mother, Emily Payne, was on hold with Southwest for four hours, trying to help her. Polon successfully got a flight back to Sacramento by 2 p.m., but some of her fellow hopeful passengers were told they would not get a flight home until at least Wednesday, she said. Polon said at the scene people were angry, and police got involved in an altercation between one passenger and Southwest staff.