The breakdown across Southwest’s network was being called the biggest meltdown in the company’s history. After last week’s storm caused widespread cancellations, Southwest was unable to redirect crews and passengers onto new flights because of an inadequate computer system and the airline’s unique “point to point” model that does not return planes to main hubs.
At Baltimore-Washington International Airport, passengers formed a long line at a baggage claim customer service desk in hopes of locating their luggage.
Among those in line was Helena Dahlen, who knew to expect a long wait and had brought a pink camping chair with her to sit in. After several hectic days of travel woes, Ms. Dahlen, 59, had given up on her plans to fly to Los Angeles to see friends and family and was now in search of her luggage.
Her initial Southwest flight, on Christmas Eve, was canceled, but she had rebooked with the airline for Monday and made it onto a flight to Nashville. When she arrived, though, the next leg of her trip was canceled. The only option, she eventually learned, was to fly back to Baltimore and call it quits.
“I’m done,” Ms. Dahlen said on Tuesday, still a ways from the front of the line after three hours. “I got P.T.S.D.”
Other passengers in line lamented the time they had missed with family because of the cancellations.
Taylor Koerner had been hoping to squeeze in a bit more holiday time with his daughter, who lives in Massachusetts, but his Monday morning Southwest flight from Baltimore to Hartford, Conn., was canceled. Then, the flight he rebooked for the evening was also canceled.