INDIANAPOLIS — Southwest Airlines’ major flight cancellations leave thousands of customers frustrated and looking for alternative options. The company canceled more than 60% of Tuesday’s flights and will only fly a third of its scheduled flights over the next several days.
The company is citing severe winter weather as the main challenge. Meanwhile, Hoosiers say they are frustrated because they cannot get in touch with Southwest.
“If they would have just communicated because they had our contact information,” Christine Kellams said.
George Osborn was in Indiana visiting his family with his wife. He needs to get home to Sacramento.
“We got here and I explained to the ticket agent that I’m a 100% disabled veteran,” Osborn said. “I’ve got lots of disabilities and I’m out of meds.”
Kellams showed up at the airport yesterday only to find out Southwest canceled her flight.
“I never received any communication from them,” Kellams said. “It was literally standing in line here to try and check my bags that I was informed that it was canceled. So, I’m like but I received no notification.”
Kellams stood in line ahead of Sydney and Scott Hollingsworth who were trying to get home to Texas. Sydney hoped she would fly out Tuesday; Scott rented two cars to drive the 16 hours back to Houston, which will probably cost him more money.
“Plus you have work and everything else, so there’s seven of us with luggage traveling 16 hours, yeah,” Hollingsworth.
No travelers we spoke with bought travel insurance when they booked. Travel agents said insurance covers your rebooked flight, potentially on another airline, and more.
“Any food expenses that you have, if your bags you can’t get them off of the airlines, you’re going to be up to about $300 for coverage there, a hotel, any Uber fees accrued to get to that hotel and anything in between,” said Travel Agent Victoria Fricke.
In most situations, flying without travel insurance means people will likely have to pay to get to their destination quicker.
“They’re going to get you to your destination which means that they don’t have to cover you deciding to get there in a quicker amount of time,” Fricke explained.
For people waiting in line to rebook, Fricke urges them to divide and conquer.
“Somebody’s going to get in line to try to speak to a live agent there,” Fricke explained. “Somebody else is going to get on the phone line. Those two things together hopefully somebody gets through.”
Using the app to make changes may save even more time.
The US Department of Transportation says if a flight is canceled and a person then chooses to cancel the trip, they are entitled to a full refund plus any airline fees they paid.
Southwest Airlines directed clients who need to rebook or request a refund to visit Southwest.com/traveldisruption.
They sent us a statement saying in part, “additionally, our Travel Advisory is still in effect to offer Customers maximum flexibility with rebooking. The Southwest Team is working to accommodate Customers on available flights as soon as possible, and we apologize for the inconvenience to our Customers.”