OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — One Overland Park family planned their Christmas family vacation almost a year ago, only for it to be completely ruined on Christmas Day.
The Hargesheimer family was on board their connecting flight to Cancun for a total of 9 minutes before everyone was ushered off the plane for a mechanical issue.
They said Southwest Airlines agents told them they would get a new flight after theirs was canceled — but they never did. The Southwest cancellations left them stranded in the Houston airport, scrambling to figure out what to do next.
“Then we had to scramble to get two hotel rooms near the airport to spend the night and then you woke up at 5 in the morning to go find any rental car to get home and you found a remaining 15 passenger van,” Mindy Hargesheimer said to her husband Dan.
They loaded up for the 15-hour drive home from Houston back to Overland Park, still in shock at what happened.
“There were all these stages of like frustration and confusion and laughing and just, like, what is happening, and then you realize that everybody else is going through it,” Hargesheimer said.
Like thousands of other Southwest passengers, the Hargesheimers are left trying to figure out if they’ll get a refund for their flights, plus the hotel rooms, rental car and extra expenses they weren’t planning on.
Officials with Southwest say the recent winter storm is to blame.
Southwest Airlines has canceled thousands of flights across the country since Christmas weekend. The airline said initial cancellations from the storm snowballed into a chaotic situation.
“The cancellations just compiled one after another to 100 to 150 to 1,000,” Southwest spokesperson Jay Mcvay said. “With those cancellations and as a result, we end up with flight crews and airplanes that are out of place and not in the cities that they need to be in to continue to run our operations.”
The Hargesheimer family said they’re letting things settle down a bit before they try to reach someone with Southwest, but they hope to eventually get some answers — and refunds.
“Probably not going to call them for a while. It sounds like no one is really getting through, so probably wait on that, Dan Hargesheimer said. “And I don’t think we’re going to book anything anytime soon. We’re kind of burnt out with airports.”