Southwest customers stranded at LaGuardia Airport, struggling to find ways to their destinations

Crystal Cranmore Image
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
LaGuardia travelers stressed, stranded due to Southwest cancellations
Southwest has canceled 62% of its flights for Wednesday and 58% of its flights for Thursday. Crystal Cranmore is at LaGuardia with details.

QUEENS, New York (WABC) -- LaGuardia Airport is Southwest's major NYC operation and the company has already canceled 2,505 of its flights for Wednesday.

That is 62% of flights.

Southwest has also canceled 58% of its flights, 2,348, for Thursday, leaving folks scrambling to find alternate arrangements,

"I'm heading home broken hearted and discouraged," traveler Evadney McLean said when her flight was canceled.

McLean won't be able to make her brother's wedding in Chicago Saturday. She was scheduled to fly Southwest Airlines from LaGuardia on Wednesday morning.

"The earliest flight is Saturday which would be too late," she said.

McLean is one of thousands of Southwest customers left stressed and stranded after the airline announced the thousands of cancellations. Those cancellations followed thousands more earlier this week.

"Every time I look, it's not showing anything until the first or second of January," Pamela Wilde said. She's trying to get back to her husband in Texas.

"I thought these other airlines would help Southwest passengers, showing you tickets for thousands of dollars. Not in my budget," Wilde said.

Southwest blames the massive holiday storm for its service cuts.

"We are past the point of you blaming the weather. What this indicates is a system failure. Make sure customers are given adequate compensation," U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said.

Southwest CEO Bob Jordan has issued an apology, saying the airline's point to point operating system, which relies on a network of direct flights, is especially vulnerable to challenges like severe weather making for a slower rebound than its competitors.

"We're doing anything we can to return to a normal operation. And please also hear that I'm truly sorry," Jordan said. He added that Southwest will significantly reduce flights over the coming days in hopes of being back on track before next week.

While the airline scrambles to restore service, customers like Wilde are trying to stay positive.

"I know God's got me," Wilde said.

The Department of Transportation plans to look at whether these cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service policy.