‘I’ve never seen anything like this;’ financial and rental impacts of Southwest cancellations

‘I’ve never seen anything like this;’ financial and rental impacts of Southwest cancellations

Thousands of passengers across the nation have had their flights cancelled by Southwest Airlines today alone, according to FlightAware. It’s not only taking the festivities out of many travelers’ holiday plans, but costing them hundreds and even thousands of dollars in some cases.


Action News Jax spoke to one passenger at the Jacksonville International Airport on Tuesday who said it would have costed him almost $3,000 to rebook with another airline the same day.

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“I looked at the flights and the earliest one they have is like January 1st. I’m in the military so I gotta get back for duty, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen,” Southwest passenger Justin Sherwood said. “The earliest flight they have is like $3,000 for today and I can’t.”

This is an issue many across the nation are facing. Jeannie Smith, a luxury travel advisor with Odyssey Travel, says the average cost of a same-day ticket will often be almost three times as much as an airline ticket bought ahead of time.

Related Story: Southwest Airlines flight cancellations continue to snowball

“A ticket to Miami just from Jacksonville for instance, normally would be around $300. It’s probably going to be around $700 to $1,000 right now because it’s an immediate purchase,” Smith explains. “And who knows if there’s any space available?”

For many, the cost of rebooking with another airline the same-day just isn’t an option.

“The people are just stranded really. They can’t afford to pay $1000 for a ticket,” Smith says.

Instead, many may end up having to turn to one-way rental cars as an alternative travel option. However, Smith expects travelers will run into some problems even being able to find one.

“Rental cars, of course, will be pretty well wiped out, because again, they’re going to be flocking to the rental cars to try and get home,” says Smith.

Photos: Passengers stranded, bags pile up as Southwest cancels flights

Smith also says that often, one-way rental cars can carry $200 to $300 “drop fees,” adding even more financial burden to travelers.

If a one-way rental car ends up being a traveler’s alternative to flight re-booking, Smith advises to check with your travel agent before booking at the airport itself.

“They can call their travel advisor and see if they can find a rental car for them with a better rate,” Smith advises. “That’s not always possible, but sometimes it is better than going right to the counter and seeing what you can get.”

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Those needing a refund from Southwest after having their flights cancelled now have the benefit of a self-service tool the airline added on Wednesday. That self-service tool can be found by clicking here.

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