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El Pasoan faced 30-hour ordeal to get home after Southwest Airlines meltdown

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EL PASO, Texas — An El Paso woman went through a long and arduous journey back to the Borderland after over 2,000 Southwest Airline flights were canceled between Friday and Monday. 

Kitty Schild was in Nashville for a work conference and was supposed to return home to El Paso on Sunday afternoon. That plan quickly changed when she arrived early to the airport in Tennessee and received bad news from a ticket agent. 

“He said, ‘No your flight has just been canceled,’” Schild recalled. 

Schild waited in the airport for hours until another agent was able to tell her that the next flight to El Paso was Wednesday, and the airline was not going to pay for her extended hotel stay. 

Schild decided to go another route, flying through Austin onto Albuquerque where she could then rent a car and then drive the remaining 266 miles to El Paso. 

Her flight landed in Albuquerque at 11 p.m., and for fear of running off the road on a dark drive in New Mexico, Schild decided to stay in a hotel at Las Lunas before driving the remaining distance the next morning. 

With the hotel and rental car fees, along with gas, Schild spent an extra $365 on her trip, and none of it was covered by the airline who canceled her original flight. 

“I’m exhausted. I’m really pissed at Southwest in the first place. Their story just doesn’t hold water,” Schild said with a sigh. 

Southwest Airlines pointed to a mixture of bad weather, air traffic control problems, and military planes in Florida causing the slowdown over the weekend that caused 1,000 flight cancellations on Sunday alone. Those cancellations amounted to over a quarter of the total number of daily flights by the airline. 

Schild said she has been a loyal customer with Southwest for many decades and it was the first time she had a bad experience with the airline. 

“They had to know it was coming. They didn’t do any preparation for it,” Schild explained.

Dylan McKim

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