Travel agents work to bring clients home as Southwest travel nightmare continues

NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – The nightmare continues for travelers flying Southwest Airlines this week as…

NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – The nightmare continues for travelers flying Southwest Airlines this week as the company canceled nearly 3,000 more flights on Wednesday. Some passengers have been stranded for days and local travel agencies have been working around the clock to make sure their clients get home.

“It’s a terrible thing to have the largest domestic carrier have these kinds of problems,” said Martha Borawski with Pioneer Valley Travel Agency in Northampton.

Southwest Airlines is under scrutiny after roughly 15,000 flights were cancelled this week.

“Meltdown is the right word. This is an unacceptable situation…and I made clear that our department will be holding them accountable for their responsibilities to get them through this situation and to make sure this can’t happen again,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The airline already cut more than 2,300 flights for Thursday and said this could go on for days. Travelers at Bradley International Airport are at a loss as they have been stuck in New England since Monday.

“It’s a problem because of medication. You run out. You don’t bring enough clothes when you thought you had plenty and it has been a real problem,” said Barbara Knowles from Florida.

As plane ticket prices skyrocket, some travelers opting to rent a car instead.

“We tried finding flights all day yesterday and we watched it and the airlines were cut throat. They just kept going up and up. We were looking at flights that were 14 hours, two different stops for $2,000,” said Carla Weibel of Chicopee.

At Pioneer Valley Travel in Northampton, Borawski told Western Mass News they were lucky that most of their bookings this week weren’t with Southwest, but some of their clients have had a few problems.

“The client’s flight has not even been canceled yet. It’s not even showing that the flight is going period on the website, so I’ve gone ahead and I’ve booked the client on another airline, but I have not canceled the flight yet. We’ll see what happened with Southwest…She had to pay over $400 plus I had to find an airline that would take her pet in the cabin…We had people who made it out to Denver. They were supposed to go to Vail, couldn’t get their flight from Denver to Vail, so what they did was they rented a car and drove from Denver to Vail, which is not a long ride,” Borawski explained.

Borawski highly recommended that travelers get trip insurance when booking flights and to keep their receipts because they can be reimbursed for hotels, meals, car rentals, and even lost luggage and if you’re traveling during the holidays, you should give yourself a day or two extra before you actually need to be at your destination in case you run into any issues.

“The airlines have reduced their loads. They reduced their staff, they’re looking for more people to work. That has been a real problem,” Borawski said.