Southwest flight cancellations continue Wednesday, leave passengers stranded in Jacksonville

18 flights cancelled and 3 delayed out of Jacksonville International Airport

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Wednesday morning, more than 2,700 flights were canceled as people tried to return from holiday destinations.

Yesterday, more than 3,000 were grounded, and the majority were Southwest flights. These struggles are coming on the busiest days of the holiday travel season.

The nationwide struggles are also affecting travelers at Jacksonville International. On Wednesday morning, 18 flights were canceled and 3 were delayed.

News4Jax has seen some customers check in at Southwest at JAX. One man we spoke with says he waited four days to get a new flight. He managed to get a new flight with Delta and rushed to get things situated to make that flight.

If you’re a customer affected by the mass cancelations with Southwest, there are a few things you can do:

  • Try booking with a different airline-- which is what the man we just told you about did.
  • Save all of your receipts — that includes things like other flights, rental cars, hotel stays, rental cars and meals. Those could potentially be used for reimbursements.
  • Avoid checking bags — if possible. Instead, consider just bringing a carry-on or look into shipping your bags to your destination.
  • Lastly, if you’re trying to get in touch with a Southwest customer service agent but not having any luck, call an international number.

The cancellations of thousands of Southwest Airlines flights are leaving passengers stranded for days.

Dozens of people waited in line Tuesday at Jacksonville International Airport to get their flights rebooked. Southwest canceled all 18 of its Tuesday flights out of JAX.

A severe winter storm has caused flight delays and cancellations the past few days, and now it’s led Southwest to reduce its schedule by about two-thirds. The adjustment has left passengers like Kevin Lemott stranded in Jacksonville for days longer than they anticipated.

“We got here last Wednesday coming off of a cruise, and we were supposed to go home last Wednesday, and every day there have been cancellations and or delays — or delays that turn into cancellations,” Lemott said. “We missed Christmas altogether away from our families, and it’s kind of rough, but they need to do a better job of getting people home.”

Sharon and Peter Robbins said they have had their flights rebooked back to Maine canceled and rebooked twice in recent days.

“We came here because online was — it was a mess,” Peter Robbins said. “It wasn’t going through.”

Some travelers at JAX told News4JAX that they had to spend extra cash on a rental car, while others said they had to get a hotel room. Meanwhile, the baggage carousel for Southwest at JAX was empty on Tuesday, but there were a lot of bags nearby waiting to be claimed.

Capt. Michael Santoro, the Vice President of Southwest Airlines Pilot Association, placed some of the blame for the cancellations on aging information technology infrastructure.

“The storm that hit last week was the catalyst to this, but what went wrong is that our IT infrastructure for our scheduling software is vastly outdated. It can’t handle the number of pilots, and flight attendants that we have in the system with our complex route network,” Santoro said. “Our software can’t keep track of it, so they don’t know where we are, they don’t know where airplanes are, and it’s frustrating for the pilots, the flight attendants and especially for our passengers.”

In a statement, Southwest said it was fully staffed for the holiday weekend when the severe winter weather hit.

“These operational conditions forced daily changes to our flight schedule at a volume and magnitude that still has the tools our teams use to recover the airline operating at capacity,” the statement reads.

Southwest said it is working to rebook customers as soon as possible and they apologize for any convenience.

The U.S. Department of Transportation tweeted it is looking into Southwest’s cancellations.

About the Authors:

I-TEAM and general assignment reporter