A holiday nightmare played out in airports across the country over the weekend as stranded travelers searched for lost luggage and waited in hours-long lines to get any assistance.
A video shared by Twitter user @Daniel_Osorno_7 shows travelers waiting in long lines at the Southwest Airlines ticketing counter at Baltimore–Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport at around 3 a.m. Monday.
“They took us on a no plane change layover to Baltimore then just left us here, over 300 people in line at 3am yesterday morning and no compensation either,” he tweeted alongside the video.
A severe and widespread winter storm caused thousands of delayed and canceled flights over the weekend. Southwest Airlines appears to have imploded under the scheduling chaos, canceling far more flights than any other airline.
The U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday night tweeted that it was “concerned by Southwests unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service.”
The agency said it would “examine whether cancellations were controllable,” i.e. not directly caused by weather, and whether that airline is complying with its customer service plan.
In a statement on Tuesday, the airline said it is addressing the “wide-scale disruption” by repositioning its crews and fleet.
“We were fully staffed and prepared for the approaching holiday weekend when the severe weather swept across the continent,” the airline said. The weather delays caused “daily changes of an unprecedented volume and magnitude to our flight schedule and the tools our teams use to recover the airline remain at capacity.”
Southwest said it would be operating on a “reduced schedule by flying roughly one third of our schedule for the next several days.”