El Pasoans struggle with getting home after Southwest Airlines cancels hundreds more flights Monday

Local

In this Nov. 18, 2020 file photo, a worker uses a flashlight to inspect an engine on a Boeing 737 Max 8 built for Southwest Airlines at Renton Municipal Airport in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) Travel headaches continued Monday for hundreds of Southwest Airlines travelers after a third-straight day of cancellation and delays from the airline.

Amongst those struggling to get to their destinations included El Pasoans, trying to both leave and get back to the Sun City.

“We had to just change everything up, our whole plan,” Maria Munoz, an El Paso woman, said.

Munoz said she and a group of others were meant to fly to El Paso from Houston when her flight was abruptly canceled as well.

“We rented an SUV to drive home but it’s very inconvenient, we just wanted to be home,” Munoz said to KTSM during her 10-plus hour-long drive across Texas.

Munoz said she had been monitoring her flight as she had seen hundreds of others canceled through the weekend.

“We looked up flights for tomorrow and there was an afternoon flight but at this point we were like do we even take the risk to book that and then what if we get another email that says ‘sorry it’s been canceled again,’ like we don’t know,” Munoz said.

Ray Adauto, an El Paso man, said he spent the entire day struggling with getting his wife a flight home from Austin.

“She was on board in going to Houston which was the first leg of the two-leg trip, but the second part was delayed for an hour or hour and a half then canceled after she arrived in Houston, which meant she was in a city with no relatives and it was late,” Adauto said.

He said what was more frustrating was not getting help from the airline, such as a hotel voucher for his wife to stay while waiting for a new flight.

“We moved her to United Airlines and got her a ticket to come back but I had to fly her back to Austin where we have family, basically I feel like they dumped her in Houston and said get yourself out of this thing,” Adauto said.

By Monday night, more than 400 Southwest Airlines flights had been canceled for 11% of all canceled flights and 1,494 Southwest flights were delayed.

The airline blamed a mix of bad weather and air traffic control for the cancellations and delays. However, some passengers have been critically skeptical, questioning if pilots and employees are staging “walk-outs” over the company’s recent COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Casey Murray, the head of Southwest’s Pilot Association, responded to speculation that the airline’s recent vaccine mandate is contributing to the chaos.

“It is absolutely, completely false to say that our pilots are that, that this is affecting the pilots in any way,” Murray said.

A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines was unable to answer how many more cancellations could be expected.

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