Fayetteville mom gets refunded for Southwest December holiday meltdown: ABC11 Troubleshooter

Diane Wilson Image
Monday, March 6, 2023
Fayetteville woman gets refunded for Southwest holiday meltdown
For the last two months, the woman said she continued to fight Southwest for her refund and finally called ABC11 Troubleshooter for help.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- "Just reimburse me, and refund me for that flight because he never made it to his destination."

This a follow-up to one of the biggest airline meltdowns that stranded passengers for days over the Christmas holiday.

ABC11 showed you the impact felt not only here at RDU Airport, but airports across the country when Southwest canceled more than sixteen thousand flights due to bad weather and an outdated computer system.

Despite the airline's promises to make it right, Fayetteville resident Mary Ann Lathus turned to ABC11 Troubleshooter Diane Wilson. Lathus couldn't get her refund for the flight that she bought her son to make it home for Christmas, but Southwest's cancellations left him stranded at the airport for days.

Mary Ann Lathus said to Wilson, "I have stayed on it. I've kept notes. I've tried to you know every five to seven days call them."

Lathus says she not only called Southwest but also emailed the airlines several times for a flight refund since her son never made it to RDU. Her son Sam flew out of the Phoenix airport to Raleigh on Christmas Eve. After problems with staffing, Southwest rerouted Sam from his original layover to Chicago's Midway airport, where he was then supposed to fly to RDU.

"Every time they would get ready to board, they would call it, they would cancel it there. The problem was not a storm. It was they said they had no crew."

Heartbroken that Sam wouldn't make it home for Christmas Lathus was forced to spend it waiting at the airport for days.

"They told them they were canceling the flight to Raleigh and the soonest they were getting anybody out of here was the 29th."

Sam eventually had to fly back to Phoenix for work, missing the entire holiday with his family.

"It was devastating to me," Lathus said.

Southwest apologized for canceling thousands of flights, stranding passengers, and promised to reimburse all reasonable fees, which the airline's CEO testified at a senate hearing that they fulfilled more than 95% of the reimbursement request.

When it comes to Sam's case, Southwest did refund him the $500.00 in extra expenses while he was stuck at the airport those five days, but the airline never refunded his mother the $1,000 ticket.

"Just reimburse me, and refund me for that flight because he never made it to his destination."

For the last two months, Lathus says she continued to fight Southwest for her refund, but after no results, she reached out to Wilson for help. Wilson got in touch with Southwest and a representative said, "Their customer experience team would look into this case and make it right. Within hours, Lathus say the $1,100 credit was in her account.

"I was like, oh, this is amazing. The first thing I did was text my son last night, and I was like you're not going to believe this, so super relieved. Thank you for your help."

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