CHICAGO (CBS) — Bags, bags everywhere — and no one to claim them. That’s the problem facing travelers at Midway Airport already weary from flight delays and cancellations.
The bags are piled everywhere in the Southwest Airlines baggage claim area on the ground floor of Midway. Southwest has tried to keep the bags in groups by airport codes, but each destination could have a dozen or more widely-scattered piles. In many cases, the bags preceded passengers into Midway by a day or more.
Megan Milk, of Kankakee, said her bag contains a valuable Pandora bracelet and other Christmas presents. She last saw it Thursday when checking it at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport, where her flight twice left the gate, only to return and be cancelled. She was unable to get a flight into Midway until midday Saturday, but said she was told that her bag went out on the first Southwest flight between Atlanta and Midway Friday.
“I’m really worried,” she said.
Some took one look at the piles of luggage, some still on dollies, and their jaws dropped. Others reacted with anger. One man, who identified himself as a former Delta Air Lines employee, said Southwest redirected his family’s flight from Florida to Omaha and stranded them. He said he drove them to Chicago, but has not been able to locate any of the family’s bags.
“This is a total joke,” he said before steaming off.
Some are passengers hoping to retrieve bags after being told that they cannot be rebooked into their scheduled destinations in time to attend weekend weddings or family events, or because they cannot be booked to their destinations until Monday or Tuesday.
Lines were still long, by normal standards, at the Southwest Airlines reservations counter midday Saturday, although nowhere near as long as they were most of the day Friday, when the line accordioned from the counter out the front door.
Southwest cancelled hundreds of flights at the height of the storm – cancellations which rolled east as the storm headed for the east coast and affected the airline’s ability to provide sufficient planes to operate, even to warm-weather destinations.