STORY: “We got a text message at like nine o'clock last night that our flight was canceled. I was on the phone for like four hours on hold, no answer. So we woke up this morning, I said, let's just come to the airport to see what's going on. So clearly, the flights are canceled, canceled, canceled and more canceled,” said Southwest Airlines traveler Lakesia Barrett.
U.S. airlines have canceled thousands of flights as an arctic blast and a massive winter storm swept over much of the country before the Christmas holiday weekend.
The carrier, which typically has an aggressive schedule that connects vast swathes of the country, has scrapped more than 12,000 flights since Friday. It said on Tuesday it would operate roughly a third of daily flights for the next several days.
Maria Simmons, 61, is hopeful that she can make it back to Chicago in time for work.
"There are no flights available for three, four, five days on Southwest. So if I could reschedule and go home another time, right now it's noon on Saturday and that's a long way away for me, which I need to get back so I can get to work." she says.
Southwest Airlines earns most of its profits from flying domestically and relies more on point-to-point service instead of operating out of large hubs. This leaves staff vulnerable to being stranded during disruptions.