Flight complications plague holiday plans

Madison Springett, Copy Editor

Southwest Airlines recently experienced technology issues which started on Dec. 22 and mixed with winter weather,  led to them canceling roughly 70 percent of their flights. Thousands of people were stranded in airports due to flight delays and cancellations. 

Junior Ali Sandler was on a Southwest flight to St. Louis from Mexico that was cancelled just before her and her family went to the airport. They then booked another flight on American Airlines which was delayed for four hours. 

“We were flying Southwest so our flight got cancelled 30 minutes before going to the airport and so then we had to scramble onto an American flight. The American flight then got delayed for four hours,” Sandler said.

Sandler also said that her and her family had to run through the airport in order to get to their plane on time. 

“My family had to run a mile [through the airport] because we had a layover in Dallas and we were in the wrong terminal. We had to sprint to our flight and we were like the last people on it,” Sandler said. 

 Junior Jenna Elmore said she experienced multiple complications over winter break when her and her family went to Fort Myers, Florida through Southwest Airlines, starting with a flight delay. 

“When we got to the gate with my family, they announced that we were going to be delayed an hour because we did not have a crew to fly with so we were delayed an hour,” Elmore said. 

After it was announced that the flight was delayed, Elmore said the gate agent announced that the flight would be canceled due to lack of crew. 

“However, after that crew talked to our gate agent, the gate agent then announced that the flight was canceled because that crew could not fly with us and there would be no other crew available at that time to fly with us,” Elmore said.

Seconds after the flight was canceled, Elmore said people started yelling because a woman had fallen and hit her head on the floor. 

“Twenty seconds after the gate agent announces that, we are in a group huddle trying to figure out our flights and all of a sudden, we hear someone yell out ‘call 911, call 911, medical help, help!’ So we turn around and there is an elderly lady laying on the ground who had just fallen or passed out. You could hear the smack of her head hitting the concrete,” Elmore said. 

When the paramedics got to the lady on the floor, Elmore and her family looked over and there was a man sitting and looking over the lady. 

“She cracked her head open, so there’s medical all around and then when we turn around, it takes about 20 minutes for the paramedics to get to the lady, and when we turn around there is a guy who is sitting on one of the stools, looking over this lady who is not moving and pale as a ghost,” Elmore said. 

Elmore said the guy looking over the lady soon started to be sick and her cousin had to push the rest of her family out of the way.

“We turn around and see the guy with a flushed face being held up by two people and my cousin turns and sees him gag so he puts his arms up and pushes us all away. As soon as he did that, the guy that was being held up started throwing up everywhere, the guy continued to keep throwing up. Before [he started throwing up] we heard him while he was sitting on the bar stool talking to a lady and he was slurring his words and being very loud and very obnoxious,” Elmore said.

She said that the guy continued to be sick but was also going in and out of consciousness, which was an issue because the paramedics and police were trying to get information from him.

“The guy was unresponsive and was falling asleep, they had to keep hitting him to wake him up because they needed his information. He ended up getting pushed out on a stretcher and he was still throwing up,” Elmore said. 

Elmore and her family went home after their flight was canceled and came back to the airport later that night to get on their backup flight. 

“So we got home and were all very stressed out and very frustrated because it’s obviously not what we were hoping to happen and by that time we would have already made it to Fort Myers. So [later on] we go back to the airport,” Elmore said. 

She said that once they got back to the airport it was very busy and people were in lines everywhere trying to find an available flight. 

“We finally get back to our gate and we wait. The airport at this point is packed and there are lines everywhere, because every flight is getting canceled out of the St. Louis airport, or most flights are getting canceled. So everyone is in lines at the help desks and with gate agents,” Elmore said.

Elmore said that they finally started lining up to board the plane when the agent announced that they had to type in everyone’s names in order for them to get on the plane. 

“We start lining up for boarding and the gate agent announces that her scanner to scan the boarding passes is broken, so she has to manually type in everyone’s last name in order to check all of us in,” Elmore said.

She said that once boarding started to slow down she looked and couldn’t find her cousin on the plane. 

“Boarding starts slowing down so that means it’s getting towards the end of the line and then all of a sudden, we look around and no one else is getting on the plane, and my cousin is not on the plane. We were all freaking out wondering where he is or what happened,” Elmore said. 

Elmore said they contacted him and found out that he had to wait to get on until all the old bags from the previous flight were taken off the plane. 

“We called him and he said he’s getting on the plane but they stopped boarding because they haven’t taken everyone’s luggage off from the flight before. Then finally all the old bags are off and all the new bags are on and they start the boarding process again,” Elmore said. 

Elmore said that the gate agent came on the plane, checked some things, talked to the pilot, and then they finally were able to get taxied out and in the air. 

“The gate agent comes on after everyone is boarding and says that she needs to check if certain people are on the flight. She leaves and 10 minutes later comes back and talks to the pilots for 20 minutes and so we get delayed for another hour while sitting on the plane. She leaves and we finally get taxied out and up in the air at around midnight,” Elmore said. 

She said they called the rental car company when they got off the plane and rushed to get there before they closed so they could get a car and drive to where they were staying. 

“We land in Fort Myers at around 2:30 in the morning and when we land my mom calls the rental car company and asks what time they close. They said they have people there until 2:30, so now we’re all scrambling and we had to wait for my cousin to get off the plane since he was one of the last ones to get on,” Elmore said. 

Elmore said that they were able to get a car and get to where they were staying after almost an hour drive. 

“Thankfully the rental car people were there, the place we were staying at was about an hour away from the airport, so we still had to drive there. We got the rental car and got everyone’s baggage in by 3:15. We finally got to where we were staying at four in the morning,” Elmore said.