Woman spends almost $4K on canceled flights, hotels & meals to catch up with missed cruise

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Department of Transportation continues to investigate the Southwest Airlines travel nightmare.


Thousands of passengers were left stranded at airports across the country.

In the month since the meltdown, Southwest has opened a website where passengers can submit claims for their expenses. Some of them are starting to see those checks hit their bank accounts.

But Southwest isn’t the only airline affected. Dozens of other airlines were also wrapped up in that winter mess.

READ: Winter weather cancels flights, leads to death in Texas

Emily Nagle, who Channel 9 first spoke to at Orlando International Airport on New Year’s Eve, has tried in the last month with varying degrees of success to get back some of the money she lost.

Nagle was the last in her party of 20 set to meet at Port Canaveral to board the Christmas Eve cruise, but winter weather meant her American Airlines flight to OIA never took off, and she was instead stranded in Dallas for 36 hours.

Nagle said she spent more than $3,800 on multiple canceled flights, hotels and meals to catch up with the cruise she missed. She finally met up with family five days into the trip.

READ: Southwest offers customers apology, frequent-flyer points

In the month since she’s been back home, she said it’s been nothing short of an ordeal to try and get any of the lost money back.

“I’m really shocked at how it’s been handled,” Nagle said.

She said she’s had to spend hours compiling receipts, writing customer service reps and tracking it all in Excel.

READ: US investigating December flight cancellations at Southwest

A month later, Southwest reimbursed her $2,700 for flights and other costs. However American Airlines, which canceled her initial flight, said because this was weather-related, they’re not offering compensation for out-of-pocket-expenses. Therefore, Nagles is still $500 short, and that doesn’t included more than #2,000 in cruise days lost.

“There’s no protection over us,” Nagle said. “It doesn’t make me want to travel.”

READ: Southwest cancellations: What to do if flight is canceled?

Southwest’s policy states that it doesn’t typically cover weather costs, but a letter from Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the company has to, because there were things the company could have done to prevent the travel issues last month.

The Department of Transportation released a new tool to help consumers navigate what they are owed when an airline cancels or delays a trip. You can see what each airline has promised here.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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