DENVER (CBS4) – Many people traveling through Denver International Airport Monday struggled to get to their destinations after a long and frustrating weekend of flight cancellations and delays. Throughout the day, 43 Southwest flights out of Denver were canceled and another 220 were delayed, according to flightaware.com.
Over the last three days, the airline scrapped more than 2,000 flights across the country.
“One night turned into two nights and was going to turn into three nights and that was too much for me,” said Shasta Bell, a traveler trying to get home to Minneapolis.
Bell had been stranded in Denver since Saturday, when her connecting flight from Denver to Minneapolis was canceled. She booked a hotel, and then on Sunday, it happened again. So, she returned to the airport to take matters into her own hands.
“I eventually just decided to cancel my flight and rebook with United,” Bell said.
Southwest Airlines said air traffic control and weather-related challenges caused cancellations of more than 2,000 flights across the country this weekend. In a statement released Monday afternoon, the company apologized to customers and employees and offered further explanation.
“On Friday evening, the airline ended the day with numerous cancellations, primarily created by weather and other external constraints, which left aircraft and Crews out of pre-planned positions to operate our schedule on Saturday. Unfortunately, the out-of-place aircraft and continued strain on our Crew resources created additional cancelations across our point-to-point network that cascaded throughout the weekend and into Monday,” the statement read.
The Federal Aviation Administration responded Sunday via Twitter, saying staffing shortages ended Friday, and that airlines are having “challenges due to aircraft and crews being out of place.”
No FAA air traffic staffing shortages have been reported since Friday.
Flight delays & cancellations occurred for a few hours Friday PM due to widespread severe weather, military training, & limited staffing in one area of the Jacksonville en route center.
— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) October 10, 2021
It all comes as Southwest is at odds with its pilots union, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, over the federal vaccine mandate. Both the union and company have denied claims that sickouts or protests played a factor this weekend.
“I can say with certainty that there are no work slowdowns or sickouts either related to the recent mandatory vaccine mandate or otherwise,” the union said in a statement.
Whatever the explanation, many travelers remained fed up and ready to get to their destination Monday. Nancy Morris said her connecting flight from Denver to Colorado Springs had been delayed or canceled five times.
“If they’re not able to do that, they should cut back and not offer the flights,” Morris said.
Shasta Bell said she was understanding of the airline’s plight, but wants compensation for the hotels and meals she didn’t budget for.
“If you’re running really tight, things like this are going to happen and you need to be prepared for that, and hindsight is always 20/20, but you need to do your best to make amends for that.”