Southwest cancellation chaos continues for travelers to Magic City

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (WIAT) – South West customers traveling to and from Birmingham say they are cutting ties with the airline as it continues to cut flights.

On Thursday, Flight Aware reported another 2,300 Southwest flights grounded nationwide by the airline as it struggles to catch up with a system meltdown it blames on an outdated scheduling system and conditions winter.

The airline reports it will return to normal on Friday, but its customers still aren’t feeling quite satisfied.

Jaimyah Laster was on one of the few flights from the South West to land in Birmingham on Thursday. She said it was four days after she arrived.

“I was a little nervous because I was supposed to come for Christmas, and it got pushed back all the way, so I can just now go on my trip sadly,” Laster said. “I could have driven here. By the time they got together, I could have driven here and partied.

Myranda Young said she continued to have confused communication and a lack of communication.

“I keep getting text messages that your flight is changed, your flight is changed after we canceled everything, so it looks like the system hasn’t even really caught up yet,” Young said.

Young’s journey story began on the 23rdrd in Phoenix, ultimately trapping her in Denver on Christmas night.

“The energy at the airport was really down and really sad, so I wouldn’t say it was the best Christmas ever,” Young said.

Young was at Birmingham airport looking for her luggage, which she says is still in Denver.

Travel consultant John Martin owns Travel Designers Birmingham. He said Southwest’s other problem is not having an interline deal. It’s basically an agreement between airlines like American and Delta to help each other out when flights are delayed and cancelled, by providing passengers with discounted tickets to change airlines.

“The Southwest says when we have a disruption, we protect the people of the Southwest, Southwest only,” Martin said.

This forces passengers to wait or turn to another carrier as they please.

“The carrier’s goal should be to get you to your destination as quickly as possible and they may have to purchase tickets on another carrier for you,” Martin said.

Young said she’s been a longtime Southwest customer, but was considering changing her allegiance. She turned to United to travel to Birmingham this time.

“I’ve never flown on any other airline,” Young said. “I’ve always flown southwest and that’s just my holy grail. I feel the safest with them, I think they have really big advantages and a great system, but this experience left me completely messed up.

Laster said she was just grateful that she finally got here.

“You live and you learn,” Laster said. “Maybe don’t learn the southwest. If Southwest looks at all if you want to refund me at all? Thank you. I would appreciate it.”

Without that interline deal, Martin said that’s why you see bags stacked up at airports like Denver. Unless you pay to have it shipped, he said you’ll have to wait until Southwest can get it on a flight.

During the winter months, Martin suggests carrying ID on the outside and inside of your bag, having a back-up flight plan in your back pocket in case you have a problem with theft and to leave earlier – because delays always accumulate during the day.

Martin said the best way to keep track of your checked-in belongings is in each airline’s smartphone app.

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