65% of Southwest flights at Oakland, San Jose canceled

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When Magalli Hernandez caught a plane in Portland on Sunday, she was supposed to soak up the sun in sunny Orlando and head to Disneyland on her family’s long-awaited vacation. I spent Christmas without changing clothes at an airport hotel in San Francisco with my two young children and my husband.

“We arrived in San Francisco and were told our flight to Orlando was cancelled,” she said, holding back tears.

On Monday morning it was still unclear whether her family would be reimbursed for a vacation package worth thousands of dollars, and Hernandez was already exhausted after about 12 hours on hold after a spate of cancellations and delays with Alaska Airlines. was

“We are stuck here,” she said.

The Hernandez family’s multi-day trip is part of the worst holiday travel season in recent memory. A massive winter storm that hit the entire country over Christmas weekend has disrupted celebrations from coast to coast as more than 17,000 flights have been canceled and tens of thousands more delayed since Wednesday.

Air travel is still affected by storms, even when bad weather subsides. In the Bay Area, Oakland International Airport and San Jose Mineta International Airport experienced a virtual travel meltdown on Monday, with nearly 65% ​​of Southwest Airlines flights canceled as airports lined up in a maze and luggage strewn. it was done. His SFO, which is not a Southwest hub, has much less latency.

In a statement, Southwest said, “With extreme winter weather continuing across our network, ongoing challenges are severely impacting our customers and employees, which is unacceptable.” Our sincere apologies for this are just the beginning.”

Kathleen Bangs, an air travel expert at Flight Aware, said after a smooth Thanksgiving weekend trip, the storm’s devastating effects caught the industry off guard.

“I don’t think anyone realized how much worse it would actually get,” Bangs said.

Her advice to travelers stuck in the country is, “You have to look at the country like a chessboard.”

Bangs said travelers should consider flying to airports within driving distance of their destination. Alternatively, you can book a low-risk connecting flight to avoid delays. For example, stops in Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

“We don’t have to wait for airlines to find a solution because there are 1,000 more people in line.”

Hernandez returned to San Francisco International Airport on Monday to pick up his family’s luggage. However, they still have a few days on their journey to try to reclaim the rest of their vacation. The family is stranded in the Bay Area for two more nights while waiting for the next available flight to Orlando on Wednesday morning when Hernandez’s husband, Eloy, flies there with her children. Hernandez waits for another flight in 12 hours.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 26: Travelers pass through Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, CA on Monday, December 26, 2022 (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group).

“We are doing our best,” she said. “At least I have clothes now.”

Across San Francisco airports on Monday, travelers said their holiday celebrations were cut short by a devastating Arctic cold front that plunged much of the country into freezing temperatures and claimed the lives of at least 50 people across the country. We’ve shared our stories. As temperatures rose over the weekend in the Bay Area, flight delays from Denver, Chicago and Seattle spilled over across the country.

“I just turned 65 and this is the first Christmas of my life spent alone.

Sackett, who had flown to Kansas City, arrived at SFO around 4pm on Friday. After about nine hours and three flight cancellations, he left the airport.

“My mother passed away in January, so I definitely wanted to go home,” Sackett said. “Emotionally it was a little weird”

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 26: Michael Colber (left) and wife Annette Georgia (right) as they travel with their two children in Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport on Monday, December 26, 2022. Collect your luggage. San Francisco, California. The family flew from New York to the Bay Area to visit family.  (Arrick Club/Bay Area News Group)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 26: Michael Kolber (left) and wife Annette Georgia (right) travel with their two children at San Francisco International Airport Terminal 2 on Monday, December 26, 2022. ) collects packages in San Francisco, California. The family flew from New York to the Bay Area to visit family. (Arrick Club/Bay Area News Group)

Annette Georgia’s Bay Area vacation was also cut short by flight cancellations. This means that her son in Georgia and her daughter spend two days less with her grandparents in Palo Alto than she does. On Saturday night, the family hung streamers from lamps in her living room in their New York home to simulate her Christmas tree.

“My mother was pretty upset,” Georgia said.

Her young son Harold, however, was unperturbed by the travel disruptions.

“Santa came to California,” he said.

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