Breaking News
More () »

'A whole bunch of scrambling:' Southwest Airlines forces many Central Georgians to drive home

As of Wednesday afternoon, Alexis Bedingfield was 25 hours into her 30 hour drive home with three children under the age of six.

MACON, Ga. — Some call it the Southwest saga --- for some Central Georgians, it has been a nightmare.

Local families are finally returning home from holiday trips after Southwest Airlines canceled their flights.

Catching a Southwest flight a day after Christmas turned into chaos.

"By the grace of God, Enterprise came through," Davis said.

At midnight on the 26th, Southwest canceled Kristey Davis's flight. For two hours, she stayed up researching options with her husband. They tried booking flights out of New Jersey and Philadelphia but were unsuccessful. Then, Davis says her family struggled to find a rental van for six people. With the Times Square Ball Drop right around the corner, she said most of the city's hotel rooms were booked or double the cost of what they had paid for the five-day trip, forcing her family to drive 13.5 hours back to Wilcox County from New York City.

"Are they just going to give me my points back? You know, you're like, I think I deserve a little more than that," Davis said.

Flight Aware says more than 91% of all canceled flights in the U.S. Wednesday were with Southwest, which scrubbed more than 25 hundred flights before 7 am. This comes after Southwest canceled more than 60% of its flights Tuesday and about 71% on Monday.

"It promoted a whole bunch of scrambling trying to figure out what was going on cause we hadn't heard anything from the airline. There was no email. There was nothing," Bedingfield said.

The mess forced Alexis Bedingfield's family of six to drive back to Atlanta from Colorado.

"It's a lot to put people out that way," Bedingfield said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Bedingfield was 25 hours into her 30-hour drive home with three children under the age of six. They must stop by the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to pick up their car before returning to Macon. She says the trip cost them an additional one thousand dollars for the rental, plus food and gas.

"I don't have a whole lot of PTO as it is, so I would pretty much be put out on cost by staying there longer," Bedingfield said.

Kelley Jackson and her mother were able to escape the chaos.

"We were like two seconds shy from us being at the airport," Jackson said.

They were leaving Dallas on the 23rd after attending the Armed Forces Bowl. She said Southwest offered an $800 voucher to get on another flight that likely would have been canceled.

"I almost took that. And, I mean, that would have been a disaster," Jackson said.

They made it home to Bonaire without many delays. However, many people are still looking for their luggage.

"I am so sorry to all these people. We were fortunate to have the option to rent a car and drive home. So, our little bump in the road is minor to what some people are experiencing right now," Davis said.

Federal airline regulators pledged to investigate Southwest, but in the meantime, many are still left wondering when they'll get home.

In a video statement released on Twitter Tuesday, Southwest Airlines' CEO Bob Jordan said that many of the carrier's planes and crews were "out of position in dozens of locations."

13WMAZ reached out to Southwest Airlines to find out if customers will get their points back or be reimbursed for travel expenses.

Southwest Airlines Media Office responded with the following statement:

"We plan to operate a reduced schedule by flying roughly one-third of our schedule for the next several days. The latest information, including a video from our CEO Bob Jordan, is available on SWAMedia.com.

We implemented a site where Customers can contact Southwest to rebook or request a refund: Southwest.com/traveldisruption Teams are finalizing a resource to provide additional assistance to Customers with reuniting with lost or missing baggage.

Additionally, our Travel Advisory is still in effect to offer Customers maximum flexibility with rebooking.

The Southwest Team is working to accommodate Customers on available flights as soon as possible, and we apologize for the inconvenience to our Customers."

Before You Leave, Check This Out