SAN JOSE (KPIX) — On Thursday, winter storms and mechanical issues were to blame for more than 400 Southwest Airlines flight cancellations and about 1,000 more in delays.
The nation’s largest domestic carrier has seen an unusually high number of planes grounded for a week, likely exacerbated by a labor dispute between the airline and the mechanics’ union.
At Mineta San Jose International Airport, Dixie Strople said her flight to Las Vegas was canceled twice in one day. She was trying to get on another flight for the third time Thursday night.
“Well, I’m an old lady, this bothers me, you know,” Strople said. “So I will get there at 11 o’ clock tonight, 12 hours after I originally started.”
While snow in southern Nevada may be to blame for the delays and cancellations to and from Las Vegas, mechanical issues have also caused hundreds of planes to be taken out of service since last week.
CBS News exclusively obtained photos showing what mechanics describe as landing gear so worn out, a plane was grounded on Wednesday.
The airline has declared an “operational emergency” and ordered all maintenance to show up for work to get planes in service.
Southwest declined an interview with CBS Thursday, days after the network’s investigation into allegations mechanics felt pressured to keep planes in service.
But the airline’s chief operating officer pointed the finger of blame for the cancellations at the mechanics’ union and said it has a “history of work disruptions.”
The two groups have been negotiating over a new contract since 2012.
“It’s canceled, there’s nothing I can do,” said Raquel Garzon whose flight to Las Vegas was canceled. “What I want to do is think of a solution.”
At Mineta San Jose, some passengers found other flights — one woman was brought to tears — but Strople hadn’t yet given up.
She said she has plans to be with her 96-year-old mother in Arizona this weekend.
“I’m hoping this is the third (time) and that we’ll make it,” she said.