Parents share their holiday travel horror stories

Right after travel cancellations plagued the place in December — most notably Southwest Airways, who cancelled 70{e9f0aada585b9d73d0d08d3c277fd760092386ec23cac37d50f4b8cd792b062a} of their flights — parents determined to get home with tiny young children in tow are talking out about their disastrous getaway journey ordeals.

Karen Buono Johnson, 39, had no concerns traveling on Southwest from Tampa, Florida to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Dec. 21. Alongside her partner, Joseph, and their 13-month-previous son, she planned to continue to be with her extended relatives for six times, then return household to Wesley Chapel, Florida on Dec. 27.

“The evening before, my husband and I were just laying in bed when I made a decision to check out on the flight, just out of curiosity — we had been expending time with relatives and failed to check out much Television set,” Johnson tells “It said ‘canceled’ and I was shocked. I failed to think it was proper, so I checked the news and that’s when I woke up my spouse and said: ‘You’re hardly ever going to think this, but we are in a large amount of difficulty.'”

Johnson and her spouse didn’t receive a notification from Southwest concerning their canceled flight till 2 a.m., with directions on how to rebook.

It reported ‘canceled’ and I was shocked. I didn’t assume it was proper, so I checked the information and that is when I woke up my spouse and claimed: ‘We’re in a large amount of difficulty.’

karen buono johnson, mom

The difficulty, Johnson says, is that there have been no more Southwest flights accessible for at least two months. With reviews of hours-very long wait moments to attain Southwest’s consumer service, Johnson states she made the decision not to “squander time striving to get ahold of them” and instead centered on “what to do to take care of this.”

These arrived at out to a Southwest Airways spokesperson for remark, who directed audience to the company’s online newsroom for the hottest updates and statements.

Karen Buono Johnson's 13-month-old son, looking out an airport window at all the Southwest Airlines planes not flying.
Karen Buono Johnson’s 13-thirty day period-previous son, searching out an airport window at all the Southwest Airlines planes not flying. Courtesy Karen Buono Johnson

Johnson and her partner begun to seem for flights presented by other airways but could not locate any readily available for beneath $2,000. They then seemed at flights departing from neighboring airports — nothing at all.

The future-to-previous choice was renting a automobile and driving from Pennsylvania to Florida: A far more than 15 hour trek with out stops. The thought of becoming on the highway for that lengthy with a 13-thirty day period-outdated, Johnson says, was unfathomable.

“We realized we need to at minimum get halfway, so we began hunting at flights out of Charlotte, (North Carolina),” she clarifies. “We located something, but even all those tickets have been around $2,500. Still, it was our very best, and most affordable, alternative.”

Up coming, the couple experienced to discover an offered and affordable rental car or truck. Initially, Johnson’s husband was equipped to book a auto at the Philadelphia International Airport, but when he arrived the corporation instructed him they experienced none readily available. The closest metropolis with an obtainable automobile rental was in Morgantown, West Virginia — a few several hours away.

Johnson’s dad and mom drove the family members of a few to Morgantown, who then picked up their rental vehicle, drove to Charlotte and booked a lodge so they could fly into Tampa, Florida the following morning.

The household put in an more $3,000 to get household and missed two times of work. They have nonetheless to be reimbursed for their return Southwest Airways flight.

Karen Buono Johnson's son, excited to finally be on a plane flying home to Florida.
Karen Buono Johnson’s son, thrilled to lastly be on a airplane traveling house to Florida.Courtesy Karen Buono Johnson

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg advised NBC News that he will be “putting Southwest Airways under a microscope” to be certain travelers are properly reimbursed.

The airline claimed to me that they had been likely to go higher than and over and above what’s essential of them,” he explained. “I’m seeking to make certain they essentially do that,” including that if the company fails, the U.S. governing administration can levy tens of hundreds of pounds in fines.

Johnson states the extra cost following the holiday time is annoying, but equally about is how her 13-thirty day period-outdated has been impacted.

“We truly feel awful,” Johnson claims. “He has not eaten appropriate for days, we had no way of bringing milk so a couple of times we experienced to halt at a gas station for total milk. I introduced just more than enough diapers, and shame on me — I need to have recognised far better.”

I introduced just sufficient diapers, and disgrace on me — I must have recognised better.

Karen buono johnson, southwest passenger

Her son did supply the pressured pair with times of reprieve through the ordeal, which include a minute in the course of their impromptu street trip.

“We pulled off of an exit and we’re hoping to uncover a grocery keep to just stroll all-around for a small bit. We really located a playground, and he was the happiest I’ve at any time observed him on the swing,” she clarifies. “We experienced to just remind ourselves to calm down simply because he’s such a excellent newborn and goes with the move. That was like a breath of new air.”

‘There’s no certainty anymore’

Chelsea Long, 35, claims that when her Christmas Eve flight was canceled it introduced again recollections of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Initially, Long, her husband, Colby, their 8-yr-previous boy and 5-yr-outdated twins ended up heading to fly from San Diego, California to Boise, Idaho to pay a visit to Long’s sister.

Immediately after paying out Christmas Working day jointly, Very long, her sister and her 5-12 months-aged daughter have been going to journey to Long’s dad and mom in Cleveland, Ohio, though her spouse and sons stayed in Boise and went snowboarding with her brother-in-law.

“It was this sort of a excellent program,” Very long tells Right “It definitely brought again pandemic flashbacks of creating options and just anticipating the options to occur. We are unable to just imagine that points are likely to happen — you can find no certainty anymore.”

Chelsea Long's daughter, in the back of their neighbor's van waiting for her dad to find their 10 pieces of luggage after their Christmas Eve flight was canceled.
Chelsea Long’s daughter, in the back of their neighbor’s van waiting around for her dad to come across their 10 items of luggage following their Xmas Eve flight was canceled.Courtesy Chelsea Very long

After arriving at San Diego Worldwide Airport two hours early and examining 10 baggage in whole, Very long begun to see flights ended up staying canceled. Soon just after they manufactured it to their gate, their flight was canceled, also, following currently being delayed for four hrs.

“The airport was chaos. Just an absolute zoo, so we just still left the airport without the need of our luggage,” Long states, introducing that thankfully her loved ones only lives 10 minutes absent. “I could not handle it.”

On Xmas Working day, Long’s spouse and children borrowed a neighbor’s van and returned to the airport to get their luggage. Long’s husband was tasked with digging through what he described as an “crazy pile” of baggage when Long stayed with their children in the motor vehicle.

“My young children had been viewing ‘Frozen’ in the back and I thought: ‘OK, we can just chill for a couple of minutes.’ Very well, the battery on the van died,” Very long says. “I didn’t know if I must chortle or cry, but I felt like I necessary to continue to keep it with each other for the reason that I experienced my kids with me.”

Very long admits she did “lose it” after her youngsters began bickering as she attempted to determine out how to re-commence the van. She failed to want to crack down, but she needed to be genuine with her little ones.

I didn’t know if I ought to chuckle or cry, but I necessary to hold it together mainly because I had my children with me.

chelsea lengthy, mother of a few

“Mom and dad often want to be potent for their little ones, but that’s not usually realistic,” she suggests. “I explained to them this is nerve-racking for me, but that is Ok since I am often heading to treatment for you. I believe it really is very good for my young children to see me as a human and normalize that, far too.”

She gathered herself and effectively jumped the van, and Long’s partner recovered all their luggage and the loved ones returned dwelling. Lengthy rebooked the flight for her and her daughter to fly to Cleveland, but that was canceled, also.

“I experienced to inform her again: ‘I’m sorry, we are unable to go.’ She just cried,” Very long says. “The night time prior to my twins had each burst into tears as soon as they canceled our flight. It was so heartbreaking.”

Long’s spouse and her sons drove to Los Angeles to stop by his loved ones whilst Extended and her daughter stayed guiding, hoping to make yet another flight. They in no way did.

Whilst Prolonged suggests the full ordeal was “disappointing,” eventually shelling out Christmas Working day with her daughter was “super pleasurable.”

Chelsea Long's daughter, enjoying their impromptu Christmas Day dinner.
Chelsea Long’s daughter, having fun with their impromptu Xmas Day supper.Courtesy Chelsea Lengthy

“I took her to the beach front, we went swimming and later we went to meal,” she explains. “My daughter beloved it. I imagine we are going to usually don’t forget this Christmas, even however it was the weirdest Xmas at any time.”

In whole, Prolonged states they were out $2,000 for the flights they in no way took and used an more $500 or so bucks on fuel, impromptu dinners and other objects. What cannot be paid back again, she says, is the emotional labor essential to vacation with smaller young children.

I think we’ll normally recall this Christmas, even while it was the weirdest Christmas ever.

chelsea lengthy, southwest purchaser

“There is certainly so significantly prep work that goes into a excursion with youngsters,” she describes. “I am writing lists, assisting my 8-calendar year-outdated pack his bag, packing myself and wondering as a result of all the wintertime outfits the kids want. I’m pondering of almost everything most people else desires and buying additional. Which is the toughest section for me — all that squandered time.”

In spite of the snafu, Prolonged suggests she will fly Southwest Airways again. In simple fact, she strategies to for her cousin’s marriage ceremony in the summer time.

“It was a large are unsuccessful on their aspect, of system, but I have been faithful to them for yrs and I feel they’re a really family-helpful airline,” she suggests. “So I imagine I will retain flying with them I am going to just rethink traveling so close to the vacations.”

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