Dozens of travelers stranded at ABQ International Sunport after cancellations
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Dozens of travelers waited in line after Southwest Airlines cancelled their flights out of the Albuquerque International Sunport Monday.
“I’m feeling really sad,” a little girl traveling with her family told KOB 4. “I’ve really wanted to go to Disney World because it’s been my dream ever since I was very little.”
Unfortunately, that dream trip, also her Christmas present, will have to wait.
“It was going to be her first time,” her mother, Cindy Moreno said. “So, it’s been a really hectic and pretty disappointing day.”
Moreno added that this is not the first time her family has been disappointed during the holiday travel period. They have been trying to get to Orlando since Christmas Eve.
“Our original flight was on the 24th, and that got canceled,” she said. “This was technically our rebooking for today, and it got cancelled again. So, it’s just been one disappointment after another.”
Since the family’s Disney tickets are for Tuesday, Moreno said her family is running out of time and options. Southwest told them the next available flight out of the Sunport is not until New Year’s Eve.
“So, we’re just thinking about renting a vehicle and driving for 20 hours,” Moreno said.
Fredalene Vigil—who was trying to fly Southwest to Boston—said she waited in line for more than three hours and was told the same thing.
“I couldn’t get a flight with them until New Year’s Eve,” she said. “It was scheduled for today, but they rescheduled twice and then finally cancelled.”
No one KOB 4 spoke with was given a clear explanation for why their flight was suddenly cancelled. Fredalene was told at the front desk that Southwest was having “operational issues.”
“They didn’t give us a reason why, but the rumor is that it’s just staffing issues,” Moreno said. “There’s not enough crew members to crew the planes.”
“Nobody sent me a text or an email,” said Steven Gallegos, who was still waiting in line when we interviewed him. “So, I tried calling, and I was on the phone for an hour-and-a-half before I gave up. So, then I thought I would come to the airport to see for myself what was happening and to see if maybe it was a mistake.”
Despite the wide-spread disappointment, Gallegos managed to find a silver-lining.
“People are talking in line, telling jokes, making stories up about what’s happening with the airlines,” he said. “Nobody really knows, and we’re all just hoping to get back to our loved ones and to get home safely on the next flight that we are able to get on.”
Gallegos later told KOB 4 he looked into booking a new flight with a different airline, but prices started at $1,500. Another woman said she booked a new flight for $2,000 that does not leave until Wednesday.
This issue is not exclusive to New Mexico.
Earlier Monday evening, the U.S. Department of Transportation responded to the travel mess on Twitter, saying:
“USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service. The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.”
Reporters with affiliate stations also Tweeted on the nationwide Southwest flight chaos: