WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WTNH) — Southwest Airlines said it plans to return to normal operations with minimal disruptions by Friday, but passengers are still frustrated with changing flights and having to pay last-minute prices to travel with a different airline.
There were 17 cancellations Thursday at Bradley International Airport, all of them Southwest.
Passengers were desperate to find a flight out so they can make their New Year’s Eve plans.
Danielle Smith was supposed to fly Southwest to Atlanta for a Dec. 31 wedding after her flight was canceled on Wednesday.
“I’m in the wedding party, so there were a lot of activities that I needed to be in that I’m missing out, on so it’s been a complete disaster,” she said.
Southwest said it’s operating one-third of its schedule, as of Thursday. For some, their next available flight wouldn’t be until New Year’s Day.
“That was almost a whole other week,” said Tanika Moore, from Georgia. “I have things to do, I have to get back home. It’s definitely a fiasco and very stressful.”
Southwest may reimburse out-of-pocket expenses like a different flight, meals, or hotels if an impacted customer submits receipts.
Gala Herdman said she’s paying twice as much for her friend’s new flight back home.
“I still haven’t gotten my money back from Southwest yet, I still have to call them,” she said. “And then $258 for bag fees, Southwest doesn’t charge for bag fees so that’s why we planned to fly Southwest.”
The United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg wrote a letter to Southwest calling the disruption “unacceptable”. He said the airline should refund tickets and reimburse passengers promptly, saying in part, “I hope and expect that you will follow the law, take the steps laid out in this letter, and provide me with a prompt update on Southwest’s efforts to do right by the customers it has wronged.”
In a video statement released Thursday, Southwest’s CEO said after trying to operate on a full schedule this holiday weekend, the airline has reached a decision to significantly reduce flights moving forward in order to catch up.