BOZEMAN - Toni DeMatteis arrived at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California on Thursday, expecting to have an easy travel experience when she found out her Southwest flight to Bozeman was canceled.
“We got to the airport on the 22nd. Our flight was canceled as we walked in,” says DeMatteis. “We were trying to figure out another flight and ended up having to drive to Ontario [California]. We had to take a different airline, which cost $2,000 to buy those tickets."
According to CNN, across the country, Southwest Airlines has canceled 15,750 flights that began with winter weather on Dec. 22.
The Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport has experienced around 25 Southwest cancellations over an eight-day period.
In total, there were approximately eight cancellations a day.
DeMatteis was one of the lucky ones, arriving in Bozeman in time for Christmas, but getting home is a different story.
“Two days ago, our flight on the way home that was supposed to be yesterday got canceled. So now we're on a different airline that we had to buy tickets for,” said DeMatteis. “We had to pay like for a whole other flight so it was $1,800 for my daughter and I today.”
DeMatteis added she has been trying to get a refund but has been having no luck with the airline, "this week we've been calling Southwest and just getting a busy tone.”
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport CEO Brian Sprenger, says Southwest, like many other airlines, canceled flights last week due to the cold spell that hit but is having a hard time catching up.
“What's really happening is the recovery period for Southwest has been extremely slow and that has created a number of issues for passengers throughout the country,” says Sprenger.
He says Southwest has been operating only a third of its flight schedule but has high hopes for the rest of the week. Sprenger warns passengers to be aware of the weather when traveling in the future and listen to their airlines.
“I think it's important for people to understand that, you know, when they see notices from airlines, particularly about you know, giving them the ability to change their flights in advance for a storm or such. Take a good look,” says Sprenger.
As for DeMatteis, she isn't planning on flying Southwest anytime soon.
“Maybe, but right now, probably not for a while because it's been a whole nightmare,” says DeMatteis.