ST. LOUIS – Frustration mounts when passengers struggling with delays and cancellations wait at the carousel for their bags.
According to flight tracker FlightAware, 64% of Southwest’s flights were canceled Tuesday, or more than 2,600 flights.
A combination of staff shortages and a severe winter storm meant that some people’s vacation plans had to be cancelled.
Mary Gilbert’s son, daughter-in-law and their two children were scheduled to fly in from Baltimore and spend Christmas together.
“Obviously there are FAA guidelines for how many crew members must 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 gifts were in these bags. They had to run to Walgreens on Christmas Day and try to buy some junk just to give her a Christmas.”
There was a long line of people waiting for hours trying to speak to someone at the Southwest Baggage Office.
“Both of my suitcases are still in St. Louis, I don’t know if they’re on the plane, but they’re on the tarmac,” Samantha Gill said. “So they’re not here and inaccessible as far as I can tell. Even if I get through that line, I still won’t be able to get to my bags.”
The Department for Transport posted on social media on Tuesday that it was “concerned at the unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays in the South West and reports of a lack of prompt customer service.”
The DOT also said it will investigate whether the airline is complying with its customer service plan.
“There was a lot of uncertainty, crew members were missing, there are many difficulties with the crews,” said Kevin Kloster. “So they couldn’t tell us for a while how long the delay would be.”
However, Chrissy Nardini said she was grateful for an off-duty flight attendant or she would be stuck in Los Angeles until Jan. 3.
“I want to compliment Southwest because we had one flight attendant who volunteered and stepped up when we only had three of the four flight attendants there,” she said. “And she got promoted even though she wasn’t on duty.”
According to FlightAware, 61% of flights from the South West will be canceled on Wednesday.
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