AUSTIN (KXAN) – Thousands of people across the nation are still trying to get home as Southwest Airlines cancellations continue. Some passengers told KXAN they have been trying to get home for days with no luck, and Southwest has told them it could take longer to get them on a flight.
“For the first time in 32 years, I had to spend Christmas away from my family,” said Sophie Verhaeghe who was supposed to fly to Denver Christmas Eve. “When I went to check in, that is when I was notified it was canceled.”
On Wednesday she was hoping to finally fly out, but her flight was canceled again.
Julie Tollemache said after her flight was canceled she decided to rent a car and drive her family to Austin from New York City.
“We are calling it our impromptu Christmas road trip,” said Tollemache. “We started at LaGuardia Airport, rented a car at JFK airport, and then we have been driving for the past, I guess 24 hours.”
Tollemache said they were given few details and she was told it could take days before she was able to get on another flight. While the drive was long, she made it home faster than most people who decided to wait.
“Absolute chaos,” said Tollemache. “A colossal failure on Southwest.”
Southwest said it was experiencing issues because of the winter weather, but Tollemache said no way that’s the only issue.
“It couldn’t be the weather because my mother-in-law got off on their flight on United perfectly fine. Brother-in-law got on his Delta flight perfectly fine,” said Tollemache.
At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, there were hundreds of bags lining the Southwest baggage claim area.
Juan Ramos was one of the dozens of people looking for his bags after his flight was canceled from Denver to Austin.
“We checked in and they took our luggage,” said Ramos.
Ramos said when his flight was canceled he rented a car and drove.
“There were a group of us, and we said, ‘You know what, let’s get a rental.’ And so we all drove over here in a convoy,” said Ramos.
Both Enterprise and Hertz told KXAN they are seeing a surge in demand after flight cancellations.
Hertz said it had a record call volume on Monday.
“While the holiday season is always a busy one for Hertz, we are seeing a surge in demand for car rentals across the country and in Austin due to severe weather impacts and widespread flight cancellations. On Monday, our U.S. Contact Center experienced record call volume and we continue to see sustained demand for bookings, reservation modifications and one-way rentals. From our frontline operations teams to our social customer care agents, Hertz employees are diligently working to serve those whose travel plans have been disrupted to get them on the road as quickly as possible.”
-Spokesperson for Hertz Car Rental