Southwest cancellations: Dad drives 1100 miles from Simi Valley to Denver to pick up daughter stranded by Southwest Airlines

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) — Southwest Airlines plans to resume operations on Friday, but that wasn’t acceptable to Simi Valley’s Vinay Patel.

Patel’s daughter was stranded in Denver on December 24. After two days of delays and cancellations, and rebooking on a flight for New Year’s Eve, Patel and his wife got in their car and drove 1,100 miles through a winter storm to Colorado.

“We can see the change in her voice when she heard we were in the city of Denver and 15 minutes from her,” Patel said. “You can feel the difference in the excitement of her voice.”

Patel said he would do it again if he had to.

“If I have to, I have to. I can do it 100 times,” he said.

The journey took over 15 hours in the car each way, a total of 2,200 miles and a night in a Denver hotel to rest. Patel said he couldn’t sit back while his daughter was alone in a town where she didn’t know anyone and with no guarantee Southwest Airlines would pull itself together.

“They have to be realistic about what’s happening so they can plan,” Patel said.

Patel said he would have left a day earlier and his daughter should have been home by now if Southwest had communicated better.

He said the worst part was how his daughter was stranded and now they only have a limited amount of time together before the holidays end.

“Your logistic system sucks. You misrepresented the customers. Even when I left Columbus they knew their system was screwed up and put us on those planes and put us all in line,” said a Southwest customer named Sylvia.

Southwest canceled about 300 flights at Southern California airports and well over 2,000 nationwide on Thursday.

The airline has put much blame on the winter storm, but Southwest pilots and flight attendants say the cancellations have nothing to do with the weather and more to do with an outdated computer system.

Unions say they warned Southwest of the meltdown, and the airline is now under scrutiny from lawmakers and federal agencies.

Although Southwest Airlines plans to return to normal operations on Friday, several lost bags are unlikely to make it into the hands of their owners by then.

“I just feel sorry for people who didn’t have families. I had a family there that was stuck with no means, no hotel,” said Sandra Rome, who was also stranded in Denver for four days. “At least I had family. At least I had my medication with me.”

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved. Southwest cancellations: Dad drives 1100 miles from Simi Valley to Denver to pick up daughter stranded by Southwest Airlines

Laura Coffey

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