SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KABC) — As Southwest Airlines continues to sort out stranded passengers and unclaimed baggage, a reporter in San Francisco said her child’s car seat ended up at a stranger’s home.
Megan Cassidy, a reporter at the SF Chronicle, tweeted Tuesday night telling Southwest, “Please tell me you’re guarding the stranded luggage. Because I’m tracking my kid’s car seat and today it moved from the STL airport to a random house in Riverview Gardens.”
A representative with Southwest Airlines responded to Cassidy with a tweet shortly after, telling the mother, “Hi, Megan. We have delayed luggage sectioned off, and we require the baggage tag in order to release any items. Please DM us so we can discuss this situation further.”
According to a tweet posted by Cassidy, she is tracking her luggage using AirTag, a tracking device developed by Apple.
Cassidy is among thousands of Southwest travelers whose luggage remains unclaimed.
At Hollywood Burbank Airport on Wednesday, a pile of unclaimed luggage sat outside baggage claim carousels and in a change from regular operations, Southwest staff individually called out names and personally handed each passenger their luggage.
“Everybody has just been talking about how crazy this entire thing was,” said traveler Sydnee Roddy. I definitely got like the better end of it because I was visiting my family, but there are people in the airport talking about they were on their last day of medication, and how, like, they were splitting their family up and I felt really bad about the whole thing.”
Southwest CEO Bob Jordan issues video apology
Jordan apologized to passengers and employees in the video released on Tuesday evening.
“We’re doing everything we can to return to a normal operation, and please also hear that I am truly sorry,” Jordan said.
He said with large numbers of airplanes and flight crews “out of position” in dozens of cities, the airline decided to “significantly reduce our flying to catch up.”
While Jordan acknowledged problems with the company response, the statement suggested that he did not foresee massive changes to Southwest’s operating plans in response to the mass cancellations.
“The tools we use to recover from disruption serve us well 99% of the time, but clearly we need to double-down on our already-existing plans to upgrade systems for these extreme circumstances so that we never again face what’s happening right now, said Jordan.
Meanwhile, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has taken the airline to task. He’s pulling no punches, referring to the situation as a complete “meltdown” of the system.
An official for the union representing Southwest pilots said they expect to have their flight schedules almost back to normal by the end of the work week.
But it’s not just Southwest dealing with issues.
On Wednesday, Eyewitness News found stranded passengers at John Wayne Airport flying Frontier and Spirit Airlines.
However, at 4 pm Wednesday, FlightAware reported more than three quarters of those with canceled flights at John Wayne Airport were flying Southwest Airlines.
The airline accounted for more than half of the 4,600 flight cancellations nationwide. The second highest was China Eastern, making up 13% of cancellations in the US
So what should customers do who are stranded do?
“First things first, travelers who are still stuck waiting on Southwest and need to get somewhere should try to book a flight with another airline as soon as possible … right now, really,” said Kyle Potter, executive editor at the travel advice website Thrifty Traveler, in an email to CNN Travel on Tuesday.
“Every airline in the country is jam-packed right now, so your odds of even finding a seat — let alone at an even halfway decent price — get smaller by the hour,” Potter said.
Phil Dengler, co-founder of travel advice site The Vacationer, said stranded Southwest passengers should get their heads out of the clouds.
“I recommend searching for alternative forms of transportation. While Southwest may get its act together over the next few days, I would not take the risk,” Dengler said. “It is legally required to provide you with a full cash refund if your flight was canceled, so it is in your best interest to have a solid backup plan.”
He also suggested looking for cheap car rentals from services such as AutoSlash.
“I also recommend checking Amtrak to see if any available trains are going to your destination,” he said.
He said if renting a car or taking a train are not options, you should use Google Flights to search for cheap flights from other airlines.
And “if all else fails, Southwest will eventually get you to your destination, but it may not be until the weekend or early next week. Travelers in the thick of this should be sure to save all their receipts,” Potter said.
Southwest itself has urged the same thing on receipts.
“If you’ve already left, take care of yourself, do what you need to do for your family, keep your receipts,” Southwest spokesperson Jay McVay said in a news conference earlier this week. “We will make sure they are taken care of, that is not a question.”
If you’ve been left in the lurch and your efforts to reach a customer service agent are going nowhere, the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights suggests trying an international number.
“The main hotline for US airlines will be clogged with other passengers getting rebooked. To get through to an agent quickly, call any one of the airline’s dozens of international offices,” Scott Keyes said.
CNN contributed to this report.
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