AUSTIN, Texas — Southwest Airlines continues to throw a wrench in the public's plans, disrupting Christmas, New Year's Eve and even weddings.
"I have always wanted a New Year's Eve wedding," said Wendi Reichstein.
Reichstein and her fiancé, Aaron Sataloff, are getting married on Dec. 31 in Houston. Reichstein, a University of Texas at Austin graduate, was able to make it to Houston on Christmas Eve. Sataloff, however, has been in Florida.
Reichstein said she was keeping a close eye on the news and was beginning to feel stressed and worried.
"This really has hit everyone," said Reichstein.
For this marketing expert and rabbi, respectively, you can probably guess what exactly is making them jittery ahead of the wedding. And, no, it isn't cold feet.
“We were hoping that the storm would hopefully pass in time for everyone to get their flights," said Reichstein. "The weather cleared up, but unfortunately the Southwest flight schedule did not.”
Sataloff was scheduled on a Southwest Airlines flight that was first delayed, then canceled. This was also the case for his immediately family members, some of Reichstein's family and even members of the bridal party. All of them have either opted for buying flights with a different, and likely more expensive, airline, driving more than 16 hours or hoping for the best with their original flight. Some who have already made it into the Lone Star State did so without their luggage, with it lost in other airports.
“Leading up to the wedding, you know things are going to go wrong. There’s going to be little details that go awry," Reichstein said. “But when the groom may not be here for the actual wedding, obviously it takes a turn and things get more real.”
Reichstein, a loyal Southwest Airlines flyer, said she is frustrated.
“Instead of progressively getting better, it seems to have just gotten worse," Reichstein said.
On Tuesday, the airline's CEO, Bob Jordan, released a video issuing an apology to travelers and pledged to make things right.
Jordan blamed the winter storm for snarling the airline’s “highly complex” network. He said Southwest’s tools for recovering from disruptions work “99% of the time, but clearly we need to double down” on upgrading systems to avoid a repeat of this week.
“We have some real work to do in making this right,” said Jordan, a 34-year Southwest veteran who became CEO in February. “For now, I want you to know that we are committed to that.”
But Reichstein, in good spirits despite the disruption to her and her hopeful wedding guests, said she one of the lucky ones.
“There are people in a much worse situation than I am," Reichstein said. "They don’t know where they are. There are people who are separated from their families that are in cities they’ve never been to that are just trying to get home, and I am so sympathetic to that.”
On Wednesday, Sataloff was able to fly on a United Airlines flight from Ft. Lauderdale into Houston.
Reichstein said some guests and their wedding attendance are still in limbo.