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CHICAGO (CBS) — Southwest Airlines is playing catch up after thousands of flight delays this weekend, at Midway, O’Hare and across the country.
Southwest flights have been canceled at Midway while many others were delayed, leaving thousands of people inconvenienced in both small and big ways.
CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra has the story of a Chicagoland family’s devastating story of the milestone they missed.
They were flights to a wedding booked back this spring. The family said Southwest had already changed their flights a few times, but what happened this weekend was down to the wire. That made what was supposed to be a happy day one of their saddest.
There is video of the moment Kimberli Romano married her husband Kyle on Sunday but that and the photographs are all her family has.
“It’s the most important day of my life thus far and I didn’t have a single family member present at my wedding,” said Kimberli Romano.
She, with her sisters Lisa and Renee shared the human cost of Southwest Airlines’ thousands of cancellations this weekend. The family was booked to fly from Chicago to Las Vegas.
“Three hours before I had to leave to go to the airport, they cancelled my flight out there,” said Renee.
“All of us were scrambling to even try and get another flight,” Lisa said.
They were unsuccessful, but they got their parents on a flight out of Milwaukee the morning of the ceremony that also ended up getting cancelled.
“I was hoping that even if the flight got delayed a little bit, they would still be here in time for my mom to get her hair and makeup done with me and get ready with me,” Kimberli said. “And then of course for my dad to walk me down the aisle.”
“I tried so hard to get my parents there but she’s never going to get that back, Renee said. “I’m still emotional, I’m sorry.”
By the end of the weekend, Southwest cancelled some 2,000 flights nationwide. In a statement, Southwest blamed “weather challenges at its Florida airports” and “air traffic control” promising to be “as quick as possible solving disrupted plans.”
But CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg said there’s likely a different reason.
“There’s growing information that leads us to believe there may be an unofficial work slowdown by some Southwest employees that are protesting the airline’s most recent vaccine mandate,” Greenberg said.
Whatever it was, the Romanos feel robbed. They’d appreciate the truth, an apology and a full refund due to the memories they couldn’t make.
“This was a wedding. A once-in-a-lifetime thing that they screwed up, and we were owed more than that,” Lisa said.
The Romanos aren’t sure they’ll ever fly Southwest again after this. The airline seems to be making up for the weekend delays with fewer cancellations, but it’ll likely take a few more days before the travel flow is back on track.
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