Southwest grounds about 80 planes after mishap

Southwest cancelled about 300 flights today nationwide so it can inspect the aluminum skin on dozens of older Boeing 737s.
April 2, 2011 7:03:26 PM PDT
Southwest cancelled about 300 flights today nationwide so it can inspect the aluminum skin on dozens of older Boeing 737s.

That includes 20 flights at Oakland International Airport, 19 at Mineta San Jose International Airport and 15 at San Francisco International Airport. There are plenty of disgruntled passengers at bay area airports including some who are waiting out some long layovers.

Kristina Anderson of Walnut Creek has been trying to get on a Southwest flight to Boston. Her ordeal began at 8 a.m.

"With Southwest, we waited for three hours and then they told us to go buy a flight, buy a ticket somewhere else because we weren't going to get out on Southwest today," she said.

The flight she got leaves at 11:30 p.m. -- a 15-hour delay and she was not alone. A line at SFO was filled with people forced to make alternate travel plans because Southwest grounded about 79 737s for fuselage inspection after a portion of the fuselage ripped away on Friday night on flight 812 from Phoenix to Sacramento.

Southwest issued a statement saying, "The safety of our customers and employees is our primary concern. We are working very closely with Boeing to conduct these proactive inspections and support the investigation. We are working aggressively to attempt to minimize the impact to our customers travel schedules today."

Some travelers at SFO don't know when they'll reach their destination.

"Don't know yet, still waiting in line," Dustin Hughes from Nashville said.

The same holds true at Oakland International Airport where the departure board showed more than a dozen flights canceled. Corey Dolley from Pleasant Hill was travelling with his very pregnant wife.

"We are told that our flight was canceled and our next available flight was 12 hours from the flight cancellation," he said.

Many of the flights missed were connecting flights, which has doubled and tripled travel times for some people. While some passengers are a bit worried about getting on a 737, they welcome the inspections.

"I want to be on a safe plane so I'm glad they're checking all the planes, so that's good. Southwest could have handled it a little better," Anderson said.

The inspections are being conducted at five locations around the country, and There is no word on how long those inspections will take.


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