CHICAGO — Halfway Airport has turn out to be an epicenter of the vacation weekend’s nationwide journey catastrophe, with flights canceled, vacationers stranded and baggage piling up.
Tens of hundreds of flights have been canceled across the country because of the winter storm and different points, spoiling vacation plans for a lot of — and Halfway has been hit notably laborious by the Christmas chaos. As of Tuesday morning, at the least 245 flights there had been canceled previously 24 hours, according to the Department of Aviation.
Many cancellations are coming from funds staple Southwest Airways, which is flying “roughly one-third of our schedule for the subsequent a number of days,” a spokesperson stated. Different reports say the airline is telling many vacationers the earliest they are often rebooked is Dec. 31.
The U.S. Division of Transportation now says it will “examine” Southwest’s “unacceptable fee of cancellations and delays.”
Chicagoan Matt Lindner stated he was one of many fortunate ones who made it out of Halfway on a Monday flight to Fort Myers, Florida.
“It was like being in line at a crowded fuel station ready to purchase a Powerball ticket and hoping you’d win,” Lindner stated. “Once they began boarding a airplane, everybody getting on board began clapping.
“There was simply this sense that if something can go unsuitable, it’s going to.”
Jessi Manion, of Bridgeport, booked a Christmas Eve flight to see household in Pittsburgh. However the flight was canceled, and she or he nonetheless has not been reunited along with her checked baggage, she stated.
One bag included Christmas presents for Manion’s 7-year-old son, she stated.
Manion stated she was rebooked for a Monday flight, which was additionally canceled. She’s canceled her journey plans totally “as a result of we exhausted our choices and Christmas is already over,” she stated.
Manion has been going to Halfway day-after-day in hopes of getting her baggage, she stated. She was advised by employees the luggage had been in a “staging space” and couldn’t be given again till they first flew to Pittsburgh, she stated.
However flights to Pittsburgh proceed to be canceled.
“So our baggage are in purgatory,” Manion stated. “The airline retains taking everybody’s baggage on the airport earlier than they then cancel flights, which is simply making this all worse.”
Lindner stated when he checked his baggage, a Southwest Airways employee advised him, “Simply so you understand, in case your flight is canceled, you won’t see these for a few days.”
“I can solely hope all this brings some type of change to the aviation trade,” Lindner stated. “When you’re a enterprise not adequately ready for the best time of the 12 months, perhaps you shouldn’t be a enterprise. Southwest didn’t deal with this nicely.”
Manion stated she feels for the front-line employees bearing the brunt as complaints pour in and the vacationers sleeping in terminals between layovers.
Traces on the airport to speak to representatives can stretch so lengthy you await hours and be tons of of individuals deep, Manion stated.
Many have taken to Twitter to doc Halfway mania:
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