Katie Demko was supposed to get married in Belize on Friday.
But she told Insider she missed the wedding after Southwest canceled her Tuesday flight.
Thousands were stranded across the US over the holidays because of Southwest cancellations.
A bride said she "cried all morning" on her wedding day after she missed the event because of a canceled Southwest flight.
Katie Demko, who lives in St. Louis, told Insider that she and her fiancé, Michael, had planned a destination wedding in Belize for Friday.
He went to Belize ahead of Demko, and she planned to take a Southwest flight on Tuesday with her children to join him, she said. She described herself as a frequent Southwest flyer, taking the airline almost weekly for work.
But just before Demko's flight was supposed to board, she said, the captain announced it had been canceled. Demko told Insider the passengers were told the flight was short three flight attendants.
She was unable to find another flight for her and her children to make it to Belize in time for the wedding.
"I had about seven travel agents, and my whole family sat for 18 hours searching for a way to get us there," she said. "We even looked at flying to Cancún and getting a bus to drive us to Belize. There was nothing."
She also tried to swap tickets with friends who were flying out Wednesday, but Southwest was unable to make the switch.
"I cried all morning on December 30," Demko said.
Southwest refunded Demko's flights, and she was able to postpone many of the services she bought for the wedding, like photography and decor, though she wasn't issued a full refund. She will have to get married in Belize eventually to recoup the costs.
But the resort where she and her guests were planning to stay, Victoria House, doesn't postpone reservations or issue refunds, which means Demko, her fiancé, and their guests are losing thousands as a result of the cancellation.
"In total, it is well over $70K lost in rooms at Victoria House," she told Insider.
Demko is just one of thousands of Americans whose Southwest flights were canceled around Christmas weekend amid storms and the airline's operational meltdown, as the company's CEO, Bob Jordan, described it. Southwest accounted for half of worldwide canceled flights on Monday, December 26, leaving customers stranded across the US.
In the wake of the cancellations, Southwest issued a statement saying the company had been "fully staffed and prepared" for the slew of holiday traffic until the winter storm "forced daily changes to our flight schedule."
"We recognize falling short and sincerely apologize," the statement went on to say.
But airline experts told Insider that Southwest's staffing and a dated scheduling system also contributed to the chaos.
When contacted by Insider for this story, a Southwest representative said in a statement, "We value the continued patience and support of our valued customers, and we apologize for the inconveniences of the past week."
The statement also directed customers to the travel-disruption support page and luggage-information page on the Southwest website, adding that it would strive "to return to our previous level of Southwest Hospitality and reliability" in the coming days.
Demko told Insider that Southwest hadn't contacted her, even after she appeared on CNN on Thursday to discuss her experience.
"Not once has Southwest tried to contact me even to just apologize," she said, adding she was particularly surprised by the lack of contact because she had flown Southwest so often. "I know they are probably dealing with a ton because of the whole mess, but not one single person from that company has reached out."
Demko and her fiancé spent New Year's Eve apart and unmarried because of the debacle.
"On New Year's Eve, I sat at my house and talked to Michael, who was sitting in Belize, and we said Happy New Year," she said, "knowing that we were not ringing in 2023 as husband and wife as we had hoped to do."
Read the original article on Insider