Southwest cancellations stoke misery at LAX, Burbank airport

The massive Southwest Airlines meltdown wreaked havoc at airports across the country and turned the lives of thousands of passengers upside down.

Many people stranded at California airports now have to wait for days to get back on a Southwest flight.

Here are some stories from inside Los Angeles International Airport and Hollywood Burbank Airport.

Nothing to do but wait

Baggage handling desks in the southwest are still decked out in tinsel and Christmas decorations.

Luis and Ruth Hernandez, from Torrance, sat on the curb outside the Southwest Terminal at LAX on Tuesday morning. They were joined by Sissi, their Yorkie, who was wearing a Christmas jumper.

The trio were scheduled to visit Omaha to visit their daughter and grandchildren, but their connecting flight in Phoenix was cancelled.

Rather than being stranded in another state, they decided to reschedule, but the earliest flight they could find was for Sunday.

“When it comes to the weather, there’s nothing we can do,” said Luis Hernandez.

The delay upsets all their plans – the holidays will have to be postponed and the grandchildren will go back to school.

“Sissi also wanted to see her family,” Ruth Hernandez said, noting that two other Yorkies were waiting for the trio in Nebraska.

Traffic at Hollywood Burbank Airport was heavy Tuesday morning, unlike so many airports that have been stuck across the country with cars reaching curbside drop-off counters in minutes.

Inside the airport, lines around the Southwest Airlines terminal were short, seven to 10 planes long, and lacked the drama associated with numerous cancellations across the country.

That doesn’t mean there was a lack of frustration. Maria Valenciano Ramos and her husband, Geronima Ramos Jr., reached the Southwest Airlines counter in Terminal A around 8:00 a.m. and looked for answers

The Arcadia couple planned to fly to Nashville Monday morning to visit their 34-year-old daughter Francesca, who lives in the nearby suburb of Spring Hill. They said their flight was canceled without a text or email and they only found out when their daughter called and informed them.

“That’s not how you do customer service,” said Valenciano Ramos, a resident of Arcadia. “I don’t know why Southwest couldn’t tell us and why we had to find out for ourselves.”

Ramos Jr said he and his wife called customer service on Monday and were “put on hold for three hours” before being rebooked for a flight that evening, which was also cancelled.

Frustrated, they drove to the airport on Tuesday in search of alternatives. They were told their first available flight was Sunday New Year’s morning.

Ramos Jr. said he checked with other airlines but was “shocked” to see similar flights costing between $1,200 and $1,600 more per ticket than he paid for.

“The other airlines are taking the opportunity,” said Valenciano Ramos. The couple eventually rebooked for January 1 with no return date set.

Her original flight was scheduled to return on January 3rd.

“It changed our whole schedule, our whole vacation,” said Valenciano Ramos. “It is sad.”

Elderly people sleeping in wheelchairs

Kate Schelter, 43, drove from Oakland to Los Angeles with her children, 9-year-old and 12-year-old, on Monday for a vacation.

Her Southwest flight from Oakland, scheduled to depart at 7:25 a.m., kept getting delayed, and rather than wait, Schelter and her children got off around 9 a.m., choosing instead to drive down the 5 Freeway to Los Angeles.

They waited another four hours at Oakland Airport to recover their bags, but were unsuccessful.

They drove to Los Angeles and were able to pick up their bags from LAX Tuesday morning, even though their original flight was canceled, Schelter said. Schelter said she won’t be flying southwest again anytime soon.

“There was no organization [in Oakland], just bags everywhere,” she said. “I saw elderly people bending over and sleeping in their wheelchairs. It was really sad.”

Trying to make the best of a bad situation

Michael Migliorini sat in an awkward position on the floor of LAX’s Southwest Terminal. The Portland, Oregon contractor was trying to gather his thoughts after his 5am flight home was cancelled.

Flights on other airlines were too expensive and he couldn’t find train tickets.

“I couldn’t think of a better place to be stranded,” Migliorini said dryly.

Andy Robinson from Denver was waiting in line for a hotel voucher. He and his family flew to Los Angeles to see the Denver Broncos play the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The Broncos lost 51-14.

“It only added to our misery,” Robinson said. He was able to book a flight home on Thursday, but his schedule continues to be thrown up by cancellations and other delays.

His relative suggested that they should just rent a car and drive back to Denver.

“Maybe we could do that. I try to be positive about it,” Robinson said. “I’m in California. I wear flip flops.”

Next available flight: Saturday

Roger and Jane Truesdale thought they had witnessed their own Christmas miracle when they successfully checked in online for their 5:15 a.m. Tuesday morning flight from Burbank to Denver.

Jane Truesdale, 74, paid $60 for early check-in and was grateful she and her husband missed Southwest Airlines’ nationwide mass cancellations.

However, their luck ran out 15 minutes later when Jane Truesdale received a text message informing her of the couple’s canceled flight.

Not knowing what to do, they drove to Burbank hoping to reschedule.

She and hundreds of passengers were told by Southwest attendants that a flight could not be rescheduled until Saturday at the earliest.

The option was a non-starter for the couple, who said they hadn’t packed enough medicine by then.

The couple had come into town from Estes Park, Colorado, on Christmas Eve to visit their son.

They said there was no option to rent a car or go back by bus and that they were looking for flights from other airlines.

“It’s not ideal,” said Roger Truesdale, 77, “but we have to go home and hopefully we can find a good replacement.” Southwest cancellations stoke misery at LAX, Burbank airport

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