Katie Demko was supposed to fly out of St Louis, Missouri on Tuesday 27 December for her and her fiancé Michael’s destination wedding in Belize. But just before boarding the Southwest flight, the captain announced it had been canceled.
Demko, who described herself as a frequent Southwest flyer, was unable to find another flight for her and her children to make it to Belize in time for the wedding.
In a recent interview with Insider, Demko explained that passengers were told the flight was cancelled because they were short three flight attendants. “I had about seven travel agents, and my whole family sat for 18 hours searching for a way to get us there,” she told the outlet. "We even looked at flying to Cancún and getting a bus to drive us to Belize. There was nothing.”
Demko also tried to switch tickets with friends who were flying to Belize on Wednesday, but Southwest was unable to make the change. “I cried all morning on December 30,” she said.
Southwest was able to refund Demko’s flights; however, she wasn’t issued a full refund for many of the services she purchased for the wedding. The resort where she and her guests were planning to stay – the Victoria House resort in Belize – was unable to postpone or issue a refund for their reservation, causing Demko and her fiancé to lose thousands of dollars.
“In total, it is well over $70k lost in rooms at Victoria House,” Demko revealed.
According to Demko, Southwest has not been in contact with her “even to just apologise” for the flight cancellation, adding, “I know they are probably dealing with a ton because of the whole mess, but not one single person from that company has reached out.”
Southwest Airlines has been at the centre of much controversy after a winter storm swept through the United States, leaving many passengers stranded for the holidays. Although many major airlines were affected by the winter storm delays, more than 91 per cent of all cancelled flights in the US last Wednesday were from Southwest.
As flight schedules return to somewhat normal, Southwest reported less than 40 cancellations early Friday – which is still more cancellations than United, American and Delta combined.
Now, the federal government has launched a review of the “unacceptable” level of cancellations by Southwest Airlines.
Because of the Southwest flight fiasco, Demko and her fiancé Michael spent New Years Eve apart and unmarried. Demko told Insider: “On New Year’s Eve, I sat at my house and talked to Michael, who was sitting in Belize, and we said Happy New Year, knowing that we were not ringing in 2023 as husband and wife as we had hoped to do.”
The Independent has contacted Southwest Airlines for comment.