‘I Don’t Anticipate Ever Seeing My Things Again’: Southwest Customers Struggle To Find Baggage Amid Airline Chaos

Customer woes surrounding Southwest Airlines’ flurry of cancellations amid the holiday season has led to heaps of luggage being left at airports.

In recent TikTok videos, users share with viewers scenes of baggage claims being inundated with travelers’ luggage. In one video, TikTok user Hillary Chang (@hillaryhelennn) shows herself trying to retrieve her bag amid what appears to be a throng of luggage at an airport in Houston.

“It honestly feels like I’m in a bad episode of The Amazing Race,” Chang, 29, says in the video.

Chang said her travel experience “is one I will never forget.”

She said she and her fiance were flying from Baltimore to Los Angeles via Southwest on Christmas after spending the week with her fiance’s parents. However, they ended up stuck in Houston, after their flight to Los Angeles was canceled. They eventually got a rental car around 11:30 p.m. on Christmas, Chang said, and drove from Houston to Los Angeles.

Chang said she wanted to give people via TikTok a firsthand account of holiday travel “that seemed to be far out of the ordinary” of typical delays.

“As for my luggage—I have made several attempts to call, email, chat and speak with Southwest,” Chang wrote. “At this point, I don’t anticipate ever [seeing] my things again. I’ve since filed a claim and am waiting for a response.”

Chang also said she has not received a refund from Southwest and believes travel issues were far beyond weather-related.

Severe winter weather disrupted thousands of flights this holiday season, according to the New York Times, but even as most major carriers bounced back, Southwest Airlines has continued canceling flights by the thousands. The Times reports that the winter weather delays threw a wrench in the airline’s “point-to-point” route model—where passengers are able to fly directly from smaller regions without having to stop at a central hub to change planes to get to their destination.

According to the flight tracking service FlightAware, Southwest canceled more than 2,300 flights Thursday. In comparison, Delta, another major airline, has only canceled three flights. Southwest’s cancellations have also prompted a federal investigation, according to the Associated Press.

In a video statement Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan said the carrier is doing “everything we can to return to a normal operation.” Jordan said the airline’s route model counts on aircraft and crews “remaining in motion.”

“After days of trying to operate as much of our full schedule across the busy holiday weekend, we reached a decision point to significantly reduce our flying to catch up,” Jordan said.

He said teams are also working on processing refunds and working to help customers deal with detours and reroutes. The airline expects to be back on track next week.

In a separate TikTok video, user Sammy (@samiamwhoareyou) showed luggage almost spilling out of a baggage claim conveyor belt and covering the ground at Chicago’s Midway International Airport.

“When you realize how bad Southwest messed up,” Sammy captioned the video.

Commenters on her video seemed to share Sammy’s surprise about the amount of luggage that has gone unclaimed.

“I’m not flying anymore, I’ll walk,” one user said.

“Saw a luggage tag that said ‘covid is better than southwest because at least covid is airborne,’” another commenter wrote.

“Gotta do carry-on only at this point,” a third stated. “… Rather just do laundry multiple times then risk having the luggage lost.”

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