SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — It was a rough weekend for hundreds of passengers flying Southwest Airlines, which blamed the delays and cancellations on weather and air traffic control issues.
Traveler Tai Tran shared a photo showing a chaotic scene in Las Vegas over the weekend. He said there was a 6-hour, in-person wait to get help and very few alternative flights available. Tran had to drive to Los Angeles and find a flight back to the Bay Area.
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KPIX chief meteorologist Paul Heggen’s flight was also canceled. He tweeted a photo of an error message on the Southwest app, and faced a two-hour wait time for customer service.
“My daughter and my son was nervous – they said you’re going to get stuck at the airport,” said traveler Esperanza Rodriguez at SFO.
She and her husband are hoping to make it home to Las Vegas Sunday night. Their flight was already delayed twice.
“We heard about it Friday and Saturday, and Sunday, we have no idea what’s going to happen,” said Romeo Rodriguez.
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The airline canceled more than 1000 flights, or about a third of its schedule as of Sunday evening, according to flight tracker Flight Aware. That’s the highest rate by far of the major U.S. airlines.
In a statement to KPIX 5 Sunday, Southwest Airlines said:
We experienced weather challenges in our Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, challenges that were compounded by unexpected air traffic control issues in the same region, triggering delays and prompting significant cancellations for us beginning Friday evening. We’ve continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and Crews repositioned to take care of our Customers.
We’re working diligently to accommodate our Customers as quickly as possible, and we are grateful for their patience. We’re offering Customers added flexibility to explore self-service rebooking options on Southwest.com, where they can get updates on the status of their travel. We know the frustration flight cancellations are creating for our Customers and Employees and we apologize, and we again thank everyone for patience as we work first to be safe, and second to be as quick as possible in solving disrupted plans.
“Just delayed a little over an hour, so it’s not bad, tomorrow’s a holiday for me personally, so it’s also no rush to get home,” said Steven Wang, a traveler at SFO headed for Las Vegas. “But it’s probably uneasy for some people.”
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Southwest’s pilot union is denying the delays and cancelations are a result of a sickout or protest. On Friday, it had asked a court to temporarily block the airline’s COVID vaccine mandate.
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