BNA was already expecting a busy travel weekend following traffic from Saturday’s Rolling Stones concert, paired with fall break.
On Sunday, at least 22 flights arriving and departing the airport were impacted by Southwest Airlines cancelations. Neither Southwest or BNA had a total number of flights impacted at BNA.
“It’s been complete chaos,” said John Cavallone, who was trying to fly home to Chicago.
Southwest told News 2 in a statement they began canceling flights Friday because of weather conditions in Florida and air traffic control issues in the same region. News 2 asked if the cancelations were related to a staff strike or vacation requirements for employees. They told News 2 that was not the cause.
“No, this was not a result of an Employee demonstration. Bad weather and ATC issues in Florida on Friday night created significant flight disruptions throughout our network and it’s taking us the weekend to recover with the high number of displaced Crews and aircraft,” Southwest told News 2 in a Statement.
Cavallone said his 3 p.m. flight Sunday was rebooked to 9 p.m. Others told News 2 they weren’t able to rebook the same day and had to get home for work Monday. Cavallone said he heard similar stories from fellow passengers.
“If you’re working, no it doesn’t cut it. Kids [have to] go back to school, that doesn’t cut it,” Cavallone said. “There’s a reason why we chose Sunday to go back.”
Carly Wilson and Hope Lyon are teachers from Houston who were visiting Nashville for fall break. They told News 2 they were unable to wait after their Saturday night flight was canceled and rebooked for Wednesday. Thankfully, they were able to find a rental car and stay with a friend Saturday night.
“We were lucky we got that reservation, but if we didn’t get that car and if we didn’t happen to know somebody that lived in Nashville, I don’t know what we would have done because I was also told I could not stay in the airport overnight,” Wilson said.
Lyon said they tried to find a flight home on another airline, but tickets were too expensive. They also reported Southwest did not have hotel vouchers for them to stay overnight. Southwest did not address the hotel vouchers when News 2 reached out for a statement.
“Now we’ve spent the additional money on the rental car, we’re spending gas, out time and things like that,” Lyon said. “I think they have an opportunity for growth in customer care in that regard, especially when it comes to reimbursing those additional travel costs that are a repercussion of this.”
After visiting her son in Murfreesboro, Shelley Dominguez got to the airport at 5 a.m. and was still waiting for her rebooked flight after 5 p.m. Sunday.
“Got here at 5 o’clock this morning, spent three hours in line just to get up to the ticket counter. Spent another hour trying to rebook my flight,” Dominguez said.
Southwest Airlines issued the following statement:
“We experienced weather challenges in our Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, challenges that were compounded by unexpected air traffic control issues in the same region, triggering delays and prompting significant cancellations for us beginning Friday evening. We’ve continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and Crews repositioned to take care of our Customers.
With fewer frequencies between cities in our current schedule, recovering during operational challenges is more difficult and prolonged.
We’re working diligently to accommodate our Customers as quickly as possible, and we are grateful for their patience. We’re offering Customers added flexibility to explore self-service rebooking options on Southwest.com, where they can get updates on the status of their travel. We know the frustration flight cancellations are creating for our Customers and Employees and we apologize, and we again thank everyone for patience as we work first to be safe, and second to be as quick as possible in solving disrupted plans.”Southwest Airlines statement
Dominguez’s rebooked flight was set to land in California after midnight. She said her connecting flight in Denver had been delayed and she hoped she would arrive home in time to get to work.
“I mean I have to go home to work. I have a dog at home, I have my boyfriend at home, and I have a cat at home, and I have a job I have to be at 6 o’clock in the morning,” Dominguez said.