Travelers spend days at SFO, lose luggage amid mass United Airlines delays and cancellations

Amanda del Castillo Image
Thursday, June 29, 2023
Travelers spend days at SFO, lose luggage amid delays, cancellations
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The travel nightmare continued for many United Airlines passengers at San Francisco International Airport Thursday morning.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The travel nightmare continued for many United Airlines passengers at San Francisco International Airport Thursday morning.

ABC7 News heard stories about delays, cancellations and even saw rows and rows of unclaimed luggage. These are all part of air travel troubles that have been exacerbated by airline staffing shortages and severe storms on the East Coast.

Adding to the issues, the busy 4th of July holiday travel weekend is now underway.

Checking Flight Aware, by 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, SFO showed 109 delays and 31 cancellations. Though SFO airport officials said they're expecting better operations.

Frustration and exhaustion were clear to see on the faces of United Airlines passengers at SFO on Thursday morning. It's where ABC7 News met Los Angeles resident Larry Parker.

RELATED: Travel nightmare causes frustrations at SFO ahead of 4th of July holiday

His original itinerary included a several-hour flight from Newark, New Jersey to Southern California three days ago.

However, with delays and cancellations, SFO was the closest he's gotten to his LA home since he started his journey west.

"All through Boston and New York, and Washington... Philadelphia - there was no other flights," Parker described. "There was one flight coming from Baltimore, so I hopped on a Greyhound bus down to Baltimore from Newark."

At one point, he spent 12 hours in line to reach a representative. Connecting through SFO, Parker's final flight home should've left before 8 a.m. on Thursday.

As he wrapped up a live morning interview with ABC7 News and walked away, he returned only minutes later. He received a text about yet another flight delay.

"I'm afraid that this has happened before," he said. "It's one delay after another after another, and finally the flight is cancelled. And it isn't like you could get on other flights very easily - 'cause they're gone or they're cancelled also, or full."

Parker admitted to ABC7 News, "This may be a long day."

After his days-long journey, Parker finally made it home to LA Thursday around 11 a.m.

MORE: Passenger gets entire plane to himself after 18-hour delay, says he is now in group chat with crew

But his story is just one of many among the tens of thousands of air travelers across the nation whose plans have been impacted by staffing shortages or the East Coast storms.

At baggage claim, people were walking row by row to recover their bags.

"I'm just frustrated... disappointed," Denver resident Shin-te Yeh said about the search for his belongings. "I have stuff there for my friends and family, so I don't want to lose it."

Yeh admitted he doesn't know where his luggage is. He was delayed several times, his flight was then cancelled and rebooked in Colorado. He arrived at SFO overnight, with a three-week international trip still ahead.

Here's what he said about his last luggage location update received from United Airlines, "It's just not showing and then suddenly it shows it's en route. Because I'm en route to Taipei on this afternoon flight."

"Then, suddenly it shows it returned to Denver," he described. "And now it's showing it reroute, en route to Taipei. I really don't know where it is so, I try to look for it. Hopefully it's really en route or somewhere here. If not, I really don't know where it is."

All of this is happening as the busy July 4th holiday travel weekend gets underway. Travel experts predict Thursday and Friday will be the busiest at airports.

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