WATCH: Father drives over 2,000 miles to bring home daughter stranded by Southwest
WATCH: Father drives over 2,000 miles to bring home daughter stranded by SouthwestHeather Hamilton
December 30, 08:12 AM December 30, 08:12 AM
A California man couldn’t wait for Southwest Airlines to resume operations and decided to drive to the airport in Denver, Colorado, where his daughter had been stranded since Dec. 24.
The trip lasted more than 30 hours and tallied 2,200 miles in total.
“If I have to, I have to. I can do it 100 times,” Vinay Patel of Simi Valley, California, told KABC.
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Southwest Airlines announced it has plans to begin operations again Friday. However, Patel said there was no guarantee after so many delays and cancellations.
He said he couldn’t allow his daughter to remain in a city where she didn’t know anyone as their limited time to spend together ticked by.
“They need to be realistic to tell what’s happening so [people] can plan,” Patel added, noting he would have left sooner had he known she’d be stranded for several days.
Patel said his daughter had been rebooked on a flight for New Year’s Eve, but he wasn’t confident she’d make it home.
Southwest canceled more than 15,000 flights this week and 2,300 on Thursday. As of Friday morning, 39 Southwest flights had been canceled and 69 delayed, according to FlightAware.
The cancellations came as a result of scheduling problems due in part to winter weather. The airline’s staff also admitted its outdated scheduling software was to blame.
“A systemic failure of Southwest Airlines leaders to modernize, support, and staff its operation leaves every frontline employee, pilots included, tired of apologizing to our passengers,” said the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called the Southwest cancellations and delays “unacceptable” and has promised to reimburse stranded travelers for unexpected lodging, food, and travel expenses.