Southwest Airlines Customers Drive 1,500 Miles From Wedding After Flights Canceled

A group of friends who attended a wedding in Austin had to drive for 20 hours back to their home on the East Coast after Southwest Airlines canceled at least 80 flights out of the Texan city on Sunday.

Heather, Jillianne and Laura was supposed to fly out of Austin to Washington, D.C. at 12:20 p.m. on Sunday with Southwest. But they learned that morning their flight had been canceled, KVUE reported.

"We panicked and scrambled to figure out how we were going to get out of Austin. We ended up deciding on a car ... we were able to finally rent a car and we're driving 20 hours to the East Coast," Jillianne told the station on a Zoom call while the group were driving home.

Jillianne told KVUE the car reservation service at the airport did not initially offer them a same-day rental. After explaining their situation and persisting, management ended up going back on their comments and the women were able to rent a vehicle on the same day.

The rental car cost $450 for 36 hours, Jillianne said. Asked why they didn't take another flight, Heather told the channel she couldn't find flights home before Tuesday and that she needed to be home for work.

As of Sunday afternoon, the group said they had not received communication from Southwest about the cancellation—they only found out after they had checked the app. They also said they called the airline but couldn't get through to anyone.

Newsweek has contacted Southwest to see if the airline has refunded the three women.

The airline said in a statement to KVUE on Sunday that the cancellations and delays were triggered by "weather challenges" at the airline's Florida airports at the start of the weekend and air traffic control issues in the same region.

"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," the statement said.

"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
A group of friends who attended a wedding in Austin had to drive for 20 hours back to the East Coast, after Southwest Airlines canceled at least 80 flights out of the Texan city on Sunday. This photo shows people on on a Southwest Airlines flight from Norfolk, Virginia, making its landing approach into Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Julio Cortez, File/AP Photo