'Ridiculous': Canceled, delayed flights cause headaches for travelers at RDU

Josh Chapin Image
Tuesday, December 27, 2022
'Ridiculous': Canceled, delayed flights cause chaos at RDU
The situation was so dire that Southwest chartered a coach bus to take passengers on a canceled flight to Nashville -- about a nine-hour drive.

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Holiday travel is always dicey but Southwest Airlines was especially hard hit on Monday causing major inconveniences for travelers.

About 75% of the flight cancellations at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Monday were on Southwest.

The issue was so dire that Southwest chartered a coach bus to take passengers on a canceled flight to Nashville - about a nine-hour drive.

Several people said they got on board the bus because they had to get to work Tuesday and it was better than dealing with a very long line of passengers trying to get rebooked on other flights.

READ MORE: Family headed to funeral gets stuck at RDU after flight canceled

The airline profusely apologized for these issues and said the challenges are "unacceptable."

Eric Forde was in Raleigh visiting his parents. His flight was canceled and he was one of the passengers who opted to take the coach bus Southwest chartered to Tennessee.

"Our plane, we tracked the plane, it's coming back from Baltimore and it is on its way, but they still canceled the flight," Forde said. "This is kind of ridiculous. A lot of us have to get back to work tomorrow so we don't have a choice."

Hersh Patel, on the other hand, chose not to take the bus; staying with his family for a few extra days.

"I was kind of shocked the first I heard it," Patel said. "A few people laughed, but if you've got to get there, you've got to get there.

"This is some of the worst I've seen it," Patel added. "I've never seen cancellations multiple days in a row like that. I figured I'd get bumped to the 9 a.m. flight, but that's already canceled."

As of late Monday afternoon, there were 46 cancellations at RDU and 69 delays.

Antonia Knighten's flight got canceled, and she can't get back to New Orleans until Friday.

She got a $200 voucher in return for her troubles.

"I could lose my job since they're not flying us out until the 30th," Knighten said. "I don't like it. I would not fly with them no more."

Knighten is staying overnight with her daughter and was hopeful her oldest daughter might come and drive her back

"It's all screwed up," she said. "They knew before, they knew this the other day, this morning, they knew they weren't going to have pilots."

Pattie Gardebled said she left Houston on Sunday to try to get to RDU. She stopped in Nashville and her flight got canceled there, so she drove from Nashville but her bags didn't make it.

She said she didn't want to wait in Nashville to get her bags because it was supposed to be a five-hour wait to get them. Now, she said she or her husband will have to drive back from Carolina Beach to get the bags while they're there.

"All the Christmas presents for the grandbabies are in there," Gardebled said. "All the homemade ones. But what really matters is we'll still be able to get to Carolina Beach where we're meeting everybody and we'll have time with family.

"We have never encountered in any country travel like this, and we've lived in difficult countries to live in," she added.

Southwest said it is doing what it can to make things right.

In a tweet, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it was concerned about the high number of canceled and delayed flights by Southwest and was examining whether cancellations were "controllable" and whether the carrier was "complying with its customer service plan."