COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Travelers are scrambling trying to make it home from their holiday destinations.
There were thousands of flight cancellations nationwide Monday, leaving flyers stranded — often without their bags — and frustrated. At John Glenn International Airport, scores of bags piled up near baggage claim, having arrived home before their owners.
So far Monday, more than 60 flights have been canceled at CMH. Travelers who’ve made it back said they’re glad the nightmare is over. But many people’s journeys are far from finished.
For Tia Patterson’s family, holiday traveling means they’ve faced one obstacle after the next.
“My mom and sister and my nephew’s vacation started rocky with that long delay,” Patterson said.
But Patterson’s travel woes worsened Monday morning, when she got the notification from Spirit Airlines that their flight was canceled — as her family was in line to get their bags checked.
“We waited in that line for two hours only to be told we can’t leave until Friday, which is the earliest flight,” Patterson said.
Patterson said after speaking with several travel agents, one finally offered a solution: Ask to be refunded and book with another airline.
“When you accept the refund, that literally makes any communications or assistance from Spirit null and void to you,” Patterson said.
With communication with Spirit abruptly cut off and no other flights to take, her family was stranded in the airport with no hotel accommodations.
“I wonder if that’s why they call themselves Spirit,” Patterson said. “Because when something like this happens, they’re with you in spirit — no longer with you physically.”
Spirit Airlines did not respond to a request for comment.
The Patterson family’s experience is far from unique.
Azzam Alhamouri was traveling home from Jordan. He said he made stateside Monday, then landed in Chicago Thursday, where he was stuck until Monday.
He said his bags arrived home before he did, and he has been staying in hotels for a week. He said the airline didn’t offer any assistance.
“They just wouldn’t provide us a hotel,” Alhamouri said. “Like, they didn’t have enough crew on the plane so they blamed it on the weather and wouldn’t supply anyone hotels.”
He said this is unlike anything he’s ever seen.
“My bags came here four days before I did. It was just a lot of trouble, a lot of headaches,” Alhamouri said.