Stranded Southwest passengers nonetheless ready for reimbursements

Solely weeks after a Southwest Airways meltdown led to hundreds of canceled flights and stranded passengers, the nation’s air journey system was briefly interrupted Wednesday because of an outage within the laptop system utilized by the Federal Aviation Administration to present pilots very important data earlier than they take off.

Whereas the FAA system was again on-line inside hours and flights had been slowly returning to schedule, these passengers whose lives had been upended in final month’s Southwest debacle are nonetheless feeling the consequences of the meltdown and tallying up the monetary harm they endured.

Passengers who spoke to The Instances mentioned the fiasco price them between $700 in a single occasion (for fuel prices) and $70,000 in one other (for a vacation spot wedding ceremony that was ruined).

“I am trying to be patient and give them a chance to make things right,” mentioned considered one of Southwest’s stranded passengers, actor Deborah Rombaut. “What bothers me is that I don’t have a timeline as far as when I’ll be reimbursed.”

Hundreds of vacation vacationers like Rombaut had been stranded late final month when Southwest Airways mentioned its laptop system that tracked crew scheduling couldn’t sustain with a extreme winter storm. The airways canceled flights at a far better charge than that of another main airline, in response to the Division of Transportation.

The airline has since given every impacted traveler 25,000 loyalty rewards factors, which equates to roughly $300, and are issuing refunds and reimbursements.

“I’ve said it before, but I can’t say it enough how sorry I am for the impact these challenges have had on our employees and our customers,” Southwest chief government Bob Jordan mentioned in an announcement.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg known as the speed of cancellations from Southwest “unacceptable.”

On Dec. 28, Southwest canceled 59% of its flights, whereas different main airways canceled simply 3%, Buttigieg mentioned in a letter to Southwest.

Vacationers impacted by the cancellations have been requested to submit their receipts for extra prices incurred. Many have obtained their refunds for his or her airfare, however the technique of tallying the extra prices is troublesome, as would-be passenger scrambled to journey giant distances through different modes of transportation throughout a post-holiday rush.

The victims of the debacle embrace registered nurse Madeline Luzzo, who estimated she spent an extra $1,000 to get dwelling to Los Angeles from Dallas when her Dec. 26 flight was canceled. Luzzo, her husband and her sister drove 22 hours straight in a rental automotive, alternating between drivers when the particular person behind the wheel couldn’t keep awake.

“It was horrible. I don’t recommend it,” Luzzo, 31, mentioned.

The rental automotive price $400 they usually spent greater than $250 for fuel. Luzzo mentioned the trio ate nothing however quick meals, costing one other $100. Then she needed to pay for 2 further days for the canine sitter who was watching her pet again at dwelling.

“I always loved Southwest, because they’re a major hub and my family is in Texas,” Luzzo mentioned, who works at Kids’s Hospital Los Angeles. “But on the drive back, my husband kept saying, ‘I will never fly Southwest again. I will pay $200 extra to go with another airline.’ And now I’m kind of 50/50.”

Kate Schelter and her daughters, 12-year-old Zoe and 9-year-old Mila, had been on their approach to Common Studios Hollywood when their Dec. 26 flight from Oakland was canceled. When it grew to become clear they wouldn’t have the ability to get one other flight, Schelter’s husband drove the household automotive to the Oakland airport and she or he and her daughters drove the automotive south.

Schelter obtained a refund on Friday for her canceled flight, totaling $720 and extra prices she paid for early-bird check-in.

She additionally spent about $700 for fuel, necessities she needed to buy for the street journey and an Uber journey for her husband to get dwelling from the airport.

Whereas Schelter and her daughters didn’t depart the Oakland airport on a aircraft, their baggage flew to Los Angeles with out them. She additionally needed to pay for parking at LAX whereas the trio tried to reclaim their baggage on the Southwest terminal.

“Overall, it was an extremely stressful 24 hours, but we were able to move on after we got our luggage,” Schelter mentioned. “Thankfully, I had flexibility in my schedule to make the six-hour drive home.”

Rombaut estimates she spent about $1,200 to get to her dwelling in Hollywood from Sacramento, which included the cash she spent reserving a rental automotive that by no means materialized.

Her Christmas Day flight was canceled and so was her subsequent flight the next day. Southwest didn’t provide her a lodge, so she stayed at a pal’s relative’s home in Sacramento.

“I was going to spend Christmas with my pets and roommates,” Rombaut mentioned. “I ended up spending Christmas on my friend’s mom’s couch.”

She finally rented a luxurious SUV — one of many final automobiles she might get on the rental counter. Rombaut met three different ladies who had been additionally heading south from Sacramento and they also tagged alongside for the unscheduled street journey.

Since arriving dwelling, Rombaut has submitted her itemized bills to Southwest. She’s obtained a number of automated emails assuring her that the airline has obtained her receipts.

As a member of the airline’s loyalty rewards program, Rombaut additionally earned a companion go from Southwest that enables her to take one other passenger on a flight free of charge, plus taxes. Initially, Rombaut had deliberate to make a journey to Hawaii along with her roommate, however now she’s having second ideas.

“My roommate does not want to be my companion,” she mentioned. “And I don’t trust that they will have all their ducks in a row. I kind of want to see how they do. I’m not really ready to be stranded at an airport again.”

However different passengers misplaced extra than simply time and cash in the course of the cancellations.

Katie Demko from St. Louis missed her wedding ceremony — a vacation spot wedding ceremony in Belize, the bride-to-be advised Insider.

Demko’s fiancé flew forward to Belize and the 2 had been set to be married on Dec. 30. However simply as her aircraft was about to board on Dec. 27, the pilot introduced there weren’t sufficient flight attendants for the journey.

“I cried all morning on December 30,” Demko advised the net new journal.

Southwest refunded Demko for the missed flights and she or he was in a position to reschedule some wedding ceremony providers, just like the photographer and decor, however she wasn’t in a position to get refunds for all the pieces.

The resort the place her wedding ceremony visitors had been going to remain advised her they might not present her a refund or postpone her reservations on such quick discover.

She estimates that her wedding ceremony get together misplaced over $70,000 from the booked rooms.