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Lubbock couple rents U-Haul after Southwest flights cancelled

Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport
Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport(KCBD)
Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 9:51 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2021 at 10:49 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Southwest Airlines cancelled more than 2,000 flights from Friday through Sunday.

According to the flight tracker site FlightAware, more than 360 southwest flights have been cancelled Monday, and more than a thousand delayed. On Monday, unlike the other airlines, Southwest flights were scheduled to arrive late, most about an hour off schedule, but one flight was scheduled 6 hours late.

A Lubbock couple, Fabiola and Mariano Torres should have been picking up their bags at the Lubbock airport Sunday. They went to Nashville for the weekend to see Alan Jackson for Mariano’s birthday. But then, an unexpected phone call changed everything.

“We were just, it was just a normal vacation and then I got a call Saturday morning that my dad had a stroke Friday,” Fabiola Torres said. “So, you know I was like frantic because I’m very, very close with my dad.”

They were supposed to fly back to Lubbock Sunday, but after that phone call, Fabiola rescheduled a flight for Dallas that afternoon.

Before they got in the Uber, it was already cancelled.

“So, whenever we get to the airport we see this extremely long line. It is wrapped through all of the little like dividers and then around TSA, like it is crazy,” Torres said.

She says after waiting in line for more than 6 hours, Southwest Airlines told her it wouldn’t reimburse tickets due to weather-related conditions.

“It’s clear in Dallas. It’a clear over here, like what is going on? They had said it was due to air traffic control, but American Airlines and Spirit were right beside us and everybody was still going through with their flights,” Torres said.

They left the counter with two $200 flight vouchers and another flight booked for San Antonio the next morning. While paying for another night in Nashville, they checked the Southwest app at midnight to find that flight cancelled. Fabiola says rental cars were flying off the lots, or were only available at $1,500. Unable to wait any longer, they headed to rent a U-Haul, not the only ones with the idea.

“We had gone up to the front counter and there was a guy with his bag as well. And he was like, ‘that looks familiar,’” Torres said.

After a 17 hour trip with no AC, crashes backing up the road and some severe weather scares, Fabiola made it home to her dad.

“Even though the U-Haul didn’t have any air conditioning, I’m still very grateful that we got home,” Torres said.

The exact cause of these cancellations is unclear. The airline is clashing with it’s pilot union over the federal vaccine mandate. But the union denies the meltdown is related. The FAA reports there weren’t any staffing shortages Saturday, but that airlines were experiencing scheduling challenges due to aircraft and crews being out of place. In a reply on Twitter, a Southwest representative stated they anticipate to resume normal service this week.

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