DES MOINES, Iowa — Holiday horror. “Kids were crying at the airport,” said Mike Patel as he waited on luggage to arrive inside the Des Moines International Airport Tuesday afternoon.
Southwest Airlines continues its surge of flight cancelations. “Our flight got delayed and delayed delayed,” said Kelly Main who resides in Mount Ayr, Iowa. He flew Southwest out of Kansas City to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Cancelations forced him to book an Allegiant flight back to Des Moines but his journey isn’t over. “Now we just have to rent a car and drive to Kansas City and get our vehicle that is at the Kansas City airport.”
Despite the runaround, they’ll get home before they could on a Southwest flight as the airline is telling customers rebookings cannot occur until December 31. Patel said, “this is an extremely horrible experience.”
After a memorable family cruise in Miami, Patel and seven other family members flying Southwest were stranded so he booked an Allegiant flight just to get to Des Moines before driving home to Omaha. “Four days we were stuck. We had to book this Allegiant flight for $3,000. With yesterday’s hotel night for us and food, car renting, Uber it’s almost $10,000.”
Lisa Delsignore was supposed to fly from Omaha back home to Albany, New York. Their cancelation has forced them to hit the road on four wheels with a rental for a 16 hour journey but may have good news waiting. “The southwest agent told me this morning after being on hold for four hours at 4:00am we should keep our receipts and submit a claim. From gas to food, lodging and rental and said the plan is to reimburse people.”
For the small percentage of passengers that have been able to reach their final destination and maybe even flying Southwest they may breath a deep sigh of relief. The matters only get worse if they are renting a vehicle. The cancelation problems are wreaking havoc on rental car carriers like Hertz. “We are completely out,” said Hertz operations manager Nicholas Butz. He added, “It has been crazy with all the flight cancelations. We have been swimming up a creek without a paddle. Lots of people haven’t been returning their cars and been taking them other locations. Everyone has been trying to get out of Des Moines with one way rentals so it’s been tough trying to keep our inventory afloat.”
Just like the piles of luggage in front of the Southwest counter frustration is piling up with customers saying little has been done by the airline carrier to help ease the stress. Patel said, “I will never recommend somebody for Southwest. They were not helpful at all.”
Southwest has alerted customers flying through January 2nd that they can rebook identical flights within 30 days of their travel date free of charge.