While the rest of the airline industry experienced only the expected hiccups as a massive winter storm pummeled much of the United States simultaneously, Southwest Airlines appeared to be falling apart at the seams.
The company had been forced to cancel a vast majority of their own flights in recent days due to staffing issues, and travelers are now looking at being stranded for well over a week.
Worse yet, a dangerous new twist to the tale has arrived, as important pieces of luggage are going missing.
It’s not just thousands of people with canceled Southwest Airlines flights being stranded at airports across the nation, but also thousands of pieces of their checked in luggage – even if the owner never even got on a flight.
Some passengers said they have been separated from baby gear, medicine and other important items because they didn’t anticipate being separated from their baggage for so long.Trending:
At Honolulu International Airport, Southwest passenger Crystal Muñoz had to sort through over “easily 75 bags jammed together” to find her family’s suitcases when her husband rebooked their flight to Maui on Hawaiian Airlines.
“It was a free for all and then they had to move them for another flight’s incoming luggage,” she told USA TODAY. “Anyone could have taken any bag.” The family eventually made it to Maui that night but ended up paying over $1,000 in extra costs.
The airline itself didn’t have much optimism for passengers.
The airline told USA TODAY that “baggage is difficult to recover” following the large disruption of their operation schedule this week and that its customer service lines are experiencing “abnormally high call volumes.”
Travelers can file a baggage report online or in-person at the airport to get reunited with their luggage, a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said.
One baggage agent was quoted telling a passenger, “they may or may not ever go to your destination… there’s nothing we can do”.
Southwest’s stock has dipped more than 12% since the trouble began.