Texas couple opting to drive 27 hours back home from Bay Area amid Southwest nightmare

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Texas couple opting to drive home from SJ amid Southwest fiasco
Amid a Southwest flight cancellation meltdown, a Houston couple is giving up on flying and opting to drive 27 hours back home from San Jose.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Another day, another slew off flight cancellations on Southwest Airlines. Tens of thousands of travelers still stuck at airports, trying to figure out how to get to their next destination.

Hundreds of more flights are canceled Wednesday.

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Some people unable to rebook until the New Year, so they've tried to rent a car or find another airline.

On Wednesday morning, San Jose International Airport was experiencing the most cancellations out of all Bay Area airports.

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As of 11 a.m., they had nearly 150 cancelled flights and 14 delays.

Lots of people "just wanna getaway" - if only, they could, after Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,500 flights, and counting, nationwide on Wednesday alone.

"It's like what are you going to do?" Jamie Tajii, a Pleasanton resident said. "So it wasn't canceled, so we just said we'll show up and see what happens and hope for the best."

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Jamie Tajii from Pleasanton was one of the lucky ones, not delayed or canceled flying to Maui from an empty San Jose Airport, as more than 60% of Southwest flights were canceled while the airline works to catch up from their systemwide breakdown, sparked by a winter storm.

"The tools we use to recover from disruption serve us well, 99% of the time, but clearly we need to double down on our already existing plans to upgrade systems for these extreme circumstances, so that we never again face what's happening right now," Bob Jordan, the Southwest CEO said.

This, as hundreds of suitcases sit unclaimed at baggage claim.

"I didn't get any text, anything, and I was like, let me check again and I checked on the app and that's when I realized that the flight had been canceled," Laurent Pianelo, a Houston resident said.

Pianelo and his wife out of Houston, originally supposed to fly back to Texas on Monday night.

The soonest Southwest could rebook him was Dec. 31.

"But then I started to see that Southwest was still cancelling 2,500 to 3,000 flights a day, Tuesday and today and I was like no, I just don't trust them to get us over there by Saturday," he said.

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Two days and several cancellations later, he gave up on Southwest and opted to book a rental car instead, like so many others working to do the same thing out of a zoo that's become the San Jose Airport's rental car center, only to drive 27 hours back home to Houston.

"But at least we should be able to get back home because we have pets at home and plants, and plans!" he said. "We were supposed to go on a vacation to Mexico today, flying from Houston to Cabo, and obviously, we had to cancel everything."

All of this, despite having a non-refundable hotel reservation in Cabo.

"I don't think Southwest is going to reimburse us for the cost of that trip so yeah, it's a mess," he said.

As for other Bay Area airports, Oakland is also experiencing major issues with 124 flights cancelled as of 11 a.m. Wednesday morning and SFO had 45 canceled flights.

Southwest has opened a self-service tool to help travelers impacted by their travel disruptions. If your flight has been significantly delayed or canceled, visit Southwest Airlines' website here to request a refund and other services you are entitled to.

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