A mess at Midway: Southwest Airlines cancellations leave holiday travelers stranded


CHICAGO — Southwest Airlines has canceled thousands of flights across the country, leaving passengers stranded in post-Christmas chaos at the nation’s airports, including Chicago’s Midway International. 

With nearly 6,000 delays nationwide on Monday and 3,600 flight cancellations, Southwest Airlines accounts for many of those problems. Data shows that the Dallas-based airline has canceled more than half of its flights, accounting for 2,300 thus far.

The mess at Midway has caused many travelers to call the airport home since Thursday.

Customers across the country have sounded off on social media about problems with lost bags, long lines at customer service counters and an overwhelmed phone system where they get busy signals and are put on hold for hours. 

Southwest representatives report the airline is experiencing disruptions across its network due to the storm’s lingering effects on its entire operation. Some passengers told WGN News, however, that they’ve learned a pilot shortage is also to blame. 

Midway, as well as Denver, Las Vegas, Baltimore and Dallas/Fort Worth airports, are experiencing the worst problems. 

On Monday, 100 delays and 294 cancellations and 663 delays and 116 cancellations were reported at Midway and O’Hare, respectively.

Kenneth Vaughn is one of the many travelers affected.

Vaughn told WGN News that he flew into Midway for his mother-in-law’s funeral and was supposed to head back to Las Vegas on Saturday, but on the Monday after Christmas, he remained at the airport searching for a way home.

“We were supposed to fly out on Saturday. They canceled our flight Saturday and actually rebooked it four times,” Vaughn said. “The app crashed. We were on hold for six hours with Southwest. Finally, we decided to come here today to get a flight out and they told us the first flight out would be this Friday. I said, ‘that’s unacceptable, we need to get back for work and for life,’ and right now, as you can see, we’re in a five-hour line to get up here to talk to somebody.”

Another nightmare is the baggage area downstairs, where travelers report that their luggage has either been lost or hundreds more piled up on one another.  

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