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Families stranded in Baltimore after Southwest computer issues causes cancellations

37 flights cancelled, more delayed
Posted at 12:04 AM, Jan 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-16 00:04:42-05

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — "You can't strand people, especially with little kids," mom Cassie Hamill said.

Several families, including one with a 6-month-old baby, are stranded in Baltimore tonight after computer issues caused Southwest to cancel 37 flights out of BWI, and delayed even more.

"We got a text message 15 minutes before our flight left Puerto Rico saying, 'Hey, your flight's been canceled, your connecting flight' so what do you do in 15 minutes? I mean there's nothing you can do," mom Carol Schneider Norland said.

Southwest says data connectivity challenges with their phones and computers caused the 4-hour outage. About 20% of their schedule BWI departures were canceled, including the Hamill, Perez-Brenner and Norland's flight home to Wisconsin.

Southwest says they are offering flexible accommodation policies for customers impacted. The Hamill and Perez-Brenner families found hotels, but the Norland's had trouble.

"We got to customer service. They give us this 1-800 number to call to get a hotel room. We call it they say there are no rooms and there are no available rooms near the airport and then we asked what we should do and then they hung up. No solution. No refunds. Nothing," Norland said.

Then to top it all off, they couldn't get their bags for the night, workers told them because they are understaffed.

"There's her food in there and she’s a 6 month baby and all of our coats and everything. So basically we just have to survive the night and I don’t know how I’m gonna move around from the airport to the hotel because we don’t have the car seat. We don’t have anything," Perez-Brenner said.

In response to hearing their specific issues, Southwest said, "That’s disheartening to hear and we’ll look forward to working with them individually to address their specific situations."

But these families say it's the end of their travels with Southwest.

"Customer service is 100% important to me. It’s not going to happen," Norland said.

Southwest put them on a flight out at 9:45 tomorrow morning. As of 11 p.m., there are 10 Southwest flights delayed or canceled in or out of BWI.