This is the bizarre moment a Nashville airport cop threatens to arrest Southwest passengers after the airline called police on those waiting to rebook their tickets.
The officer, who has not been named, marshalled stranded customers away from the gate in Tennessee after their flights were canceled.
He accused them of trespassing and said they had no right to be there because they no longer had a valid ticket.
It comes after Southwest plunged into meltdown as it shelved thousands of planes and left tens of thousands stuck away from home for the holidays.
The airline’s stocks continued to plummet on Wednesday, falling five percent to make it over 12 percent in the last five days.
The cop was believed to be recorded at Nashville airport this week as he herded devastated would-be passengers away from the gate.
He was called there by airline workers as they struggled to cope with the huge influx of customers trying to get a flight.
He said: ‘You need to leave or you’ll be arrested for trespassing. Go. Right now. Everybody to the unsecure side.
‘Ticket counter will help you with any questions you have, go. If you have no ticket you don’t need to be in the secure side. Let’s go, keep moving. Your ticket just got canceled.’
He is then accosted by a woman claiming she is an attorney, who asks him to state the law allowing him to arrest them for trespassing.
He said: ‘If you don’t have a valid ticket and you’re on the secure side you will be arrested.’
She fights back, saying: ‘We do have tickets. We do have valid tickets, they’re just not to Washington DC or Phoenix.’
He replied: ‘If your ticket is canceled you no longer have a ticket. You understand that right?’
He added: ‘Right now Southwest is calling us because you guys are conjugated right here and they’re trying to close that gate.
‘We’re telling you your information is at the ticket counter, please go to the ticket counter.’
The cop was believed to be recorded at Nashville airport this week as he herded devastated would-be passengers away from the gate
He was called there by airline workers as they struggled to cope with the huge influx of customers trying to get a flight
Luggage is left stacked up at LAX on Wednesday despite no customers being able to claim it
Massive baggage graveyards, wait times and dissatisfied customers could potentially spell the end for the efficiency airline many Americans have long favored
A passenger at the St. Louis Lambert airport looks at rows and rows of Southwest passenger luggage at the baggage claim area on Wednesday morning, December 28
Wheelchairs and caution tape have been set up as loose perimeters to surround the heaps of baggage from flights that won’t be taking off today
Southwest stocks plunged another five percent on Wednesday as flight delays and cancelations on the order of thousands continued to plague the airline.
CEO Bob Jordan told the Wall Street Journal overnight Monday the company had experienced a ‘tough day’ and was expecting ‘another tough day’ on Tuesday.
Southwest canceled a further 2,500 flights Tuesday, despite the worst of the Christmas storm that plagued the Midwest and East Coast being over.
As of Wednesday morning, the airline has canceled more than 60 percent of its schedule – another 2,500 flights – and 58 percent of its Thursday schedule.
Meanwhile flyers branded its internal system a ‘McDonald’s McFlurry machine’ while others compared luggage piling up at airports to ‘baggage graveyards’ and it being another PR disaster.
According to a Bloomberg report, the carrier’s vice president of ground operations, Chris Johnson, declared a ‘state of operational emergency’ at Denver airport on December 21 after an unusually high number of employees called in sick – a forewarning of the larger emergency about to hit the airline.
The company’s holiday meltdown sent its five-day stock price plunging. The dip was especially steep on Tuesday, when shares fell six percent to below $34 and did not make up ground as the trading day progressed.
Shares were down another 1.6 percent in premarket trading on Wednesday. The company is on track to see a 2022 decline of more than 20 percent.
Distraught customers across the nation remain stranded following family holidays and trips.
So-called ‘baggage graveyards’ have become commonplace as stranded flyers attempt to locate their possessions at major travel hubs.
Commenting on the airline’s catastrophic few days, sports reporter Clint Lamb compared the airline to another infamously faulty system – the McDonald’s McFlurry machines.
‘So essentially Southwest Airlines running on the same system as McDonald’s McFlurry machine,’ he posted to Twitter.
Southwest CEO Bob Jordan has repeatedly apologized to the Southwest customer and employee base. He said Tuesday night he is hopeful the company will be back on the right track before week’s end
Airline analyst David Vernon told the New York Times the ailing airline’s ‘point-to-point system’ often allows for higher use of planes during normal flying times, but can lead to enormously negative results when things go awry.
When the winter storm hit Chicago and Denver hard, two of the airline’s largest hubs, chaos ensued. And in the post-pandemic environment, where airlines remain relatively understaffed, any destabilizing event may prove disastrous.
Jordan, in an apology video posted by the company on Tuesday, assured customers and employees that they are ‘making headway’ with the extensive scheduling issue the company is currently facing, and are ‘optimistic to be back on track before next week.’
Only about two-dozen Southwest flights have so far been canceled on Friday’s schedule. But it seems as though trouble may be far from over for the airline.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told Good Morning America on Wednesday that he will be keeping a watchful eye on the airline as it attempts to ‘rebuild trust and confidence’ with its passengers.
He described the post-Christmas cancelation flurry as a ‘meltdown,’ before saying he would like to see Southwest passengers ‘adequately compensated’ not just for their canceled flights, but for hotel reservations and all other costs associated with their travel delays.
Buttigieg confirmed that he had spoken with Jordan and used the opportunity to ‘remind’ the company executives of ‘their customer service commitments.’
He said that Jordan and his executive team said they intend to go ‘above and beyond the letter of their customer service plan,’ and that DOT ‘will be watching closely to make sure that actually happens.’
North of 60 percent of Southwest flights have been canceled Wednesday and 58 percent of Thursday flights have been axed as well
A worker (top right) is seen attempting to sort through a pile of unclaimed luggage cordoned off by caution tape at the Southwest terminal in St. Louis
A baggage graveyard is snapped at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport on December 27 as passengers on canceled flights attempt to reclaim their property
In Congress, Senators Ed Mark and Richard Blumenthal – both of whom sit on the Senate Commerce Committee – have called for Southwest to compensate their passengers appropriately.
‘Southwest Airlines is failing consumers during the most important travel week of the year,’ they said in a joint statement.
‘Instead of a holiday spent celebrating with family and friends, passengers are sleeping in airports or desperately trying to reach customer service agents. For those travelers whose holidays have been ruined, there is no real way for Southwest to make this right.
‘But the company can start by fairly compensating passengers whose flights were canceled, including not only rebooked tickets, ticket refunds, and hotel, meal, and transportation reimbursement, but significant monetary compensation for the disruption to their holiday plans.
‘Southwest is planning to issue a $428million dividend next year – the company can afford to do right by the consumers it has harmed. Southwest should focus first on its customers stranded at airports and stuck on interminable hold.
‘Southwest cannot avoid compensating passengers by claiming these flight cancellations were caused by recent winter storms.
‘As Southwest executives have acknowledged, the mass cancellations yesterday were largely due to the failure of its own internal systems. As such, those cancellations should be categorized as ‘controllable,’ and Southwest should compensate passengers accordingly.’
As Southwest passengers await their travel fate, some have documented sleeping in terminals while they tried without success to get through to the company’s customer service lines.
Even company employees have been unable to get through to the airline in order to work out their schedules.
Southwest has long boasted quick turnaround times and shorter flight times. But prioritizing efficiency has left the airline underserved in other categories, like scheduling.
Lyn Montgomery, the president of TWU Local 556, said the airline is simply ‘not manned with enough manpower in order to give the scheduling changes to flight attendants and that’s created a ripple effect that is creating chaos throughout the nation.’
Addressing that very issue, Southwest COO Andrew Watterson told employees on a Tuesday call that the company’s scheduling software dates back to the 1990s and is currently the primary reason that cancelations continue to abound.
Planes, said Watterson, have been ready for takeoff in the last days with available crews prepped to go. However, Southwest’s dated tech was unable to match the crews to the planes quickly and accurately.
‘As a result, we had to ask our crew schedulers to do this manually, and it’s extraordinarily difficult,’ he said. ‘This is a tedious, long process.
CEO Bob Jordan later discussed the issue of the old tech with employees in a private letter that was obtained by media.
‘Part of what we’re suffering is a lack of tools. We’ve talked an awful lot about modernizing the operation and the need to do that,’ he wrote.
He added that Southwest is committed to investing in ‘improving its systems,’ but noted that immediate problems call for ‘faster’ solutions.
‘Stay calm and know your rights!’ Stranded airline passengers CAN get full refunds for canceled flights even if they have non-refundable tickets, experts say – but warn they may have to pay even more to rebook
Thousands of travelers were stranded at airports or stuck on hold trying to rebook flights this week as a massive storm snarled travel in the US and Canada.
More than 2,800 more flights had already been canceled in the U.S. as of 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to the flight tracking service FlightAware, and problems are likely to continue at least into Wednesday. Southwest Airlines flights have been especially badly affected.
Staying calm and knowing your rights can go a long way if your flight is canceled, experts say.
Here is some of their advice for dealing with a flight cancellation:
My flight was canceled… what next?
If you still want to get to your destination, most airlines will rebook you for free on the next available flight as long as it has seats, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
If you want to cancel the trip, you are entitled to a full refund, even if you bought non-refundable tickets.
You’re also entitled to a refund of any bag fees, seat upgrades or other extras.
Kurt Ebenhoch, a consumer travel advocate and former airline executive, stressed that travelers are eligible for a refund, not just vouchers for future travel.
If you do take a voucher, make sure you inquire about blackout dates and other restrictions on its use.
Passengers at New York’s LaGuardia airport sit stranded as Southwest continues its nightmare week of cancelations and delays
Kurt Ebenhoch, a consumer travel advocate and former airline executive, shared tips about what to do when your flight is canceled
Will I have to pay a change fee if I rebook my flights?
Major airlines – including Delta, American, Southwest, Air Canada, Alaska, Frontier and Spirit – are waiving change fees during the storm, which gives travelers more flexibility as they shift their plans.
But Ebenhoch said travelers should read the fine print carefully.
If you book a return flight outside the window that the airline sets, you may have to pay for the difference in fares, for example.
Can I ask to be booked on another airline’s flight?
Yes. Airlines aren’t required to put you on another airline’s flight, but they can, and sometimes do, according to the DOT.
Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com, recommends researching alternate flights while you’re waiting to talk to an agent.
Agents are typically under a lot of pressure when a flight is canceled, so giving them some options helps.
Ebenhoch also suggests looking for alternative airports that are close to your original destination.
Is the airline required to give me a hotel room or other compensation?
No. Each airline has its own policies about providing for customers whose flights are canceled, according to the DOT.
But many airlines do offer accommodations, so you should check with their staff.
DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday morning he is keeping a watchful eye on Southwest to ensure that passengers are compensated fairly for all travel inconveniences, including hotels and other costs
The Southwest terminal at Los Angeles International Airport was chock full of unclaimed baggage from flights that had been canceled
Weary travelers in Tennessee sit in wait for any news following their canceled flights
I’m facing a long wait to rebook… what should I do?
If someone in your traveling party is at a higher level in a frequent flier program, use the number reserved for that level to call the airline, Ebenhoch said.
You can also try calling an international help desk for the airline, since those agents have the ability to make changes.
How can I avoid this in the future?
Ebenhoch said nonstop flights and morning flights are generally the most reliable if you can book them.
If you are worried about making it to the airport in time for a morning flight, he said, consider staying at a hotel connected to the airport the night before.
And consider flying outside of busy dates; this year, the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration is expecting big crowds on December 30, for example.
Klee recommends comparing airlines’ policies on the DOT’s service dashboard.
He also suggests reserving multiple flights and then canceling the ones you don’t use, as long as the airline will refund your money or convert it into a credit for a future flight.