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Travelers and agents react to Southwest Airlines cancellations

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX47) — Staffing and cost issues, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, have brought on a perfect storm of conditions that have left travelers frustrated.

“Right now, travel, you need to be super flexible,” said Melissa Gutting, Travel Leaders Rochester sales development manager.

“Fewer people, there are more opportunities for gaps in service, and also just. So I would be and I’m very concerned with not having enough staff,” said Bryan Wattier, a Rochester resident with intentions of traveling.

Many industries have been dealing with staffing issues, and none may be worse than what happened at Southwest Airlines over the weekend, as flight cancellations led to thousands of stranded passengers.

“So they are booking with other airlines and some of them have to wait until the next day to be able to get a flight out, because there are so many people having to rebook,” said Judith Zavala, a Rochester-based travel agent.

Zavala says people should not worry about these kinds of backlogs long-term.

“I don’t think that all of the airlines are gonna fold at the same time,” said Zavala.

Another point that was emphasized was traveler preparation.

“Traveling didn’t always use to be this easy, and I think with all the new challenges that we have, people just need to be prepared,” said Wattier.

“If you’re gonna be traveling, you need to be flexible. You need to be flexible, you need to have the patience and the time to just kind of go with the flow a little bit more,” said Gutting.

Additionally, travelers in southeast Minnesota have other airlines more available to them than Southwest.

“I usually don’t book with Southwest, although that is one of the ones that I prefer,” said Zavala. “Most of the people that I book with are Delta Airlines because Minneapolis is a hub.”

Noah Caplan

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