- Jade Rodriguez said her family had a “surreal” trip to Japan planned for her son’s 21st birthday.
- But after Southwest canceled their flight from Tucson to LAX, they missed their flight to Tokyo.
- “Had we been notified sooner, we would have driven and made it,” Rodriguez told Insider.
An Arizona family is “shocked” and “distressed” after Southwest’s last-minute cancellation caused them to miss their flight to Japan and left them thousands of dollars.
Jade Rodriguez told Insider that she, her husband, and their two children planned a “surreal” trip to Tokyo, Japan, because her 20-year-old son said that was where he wanted to go to celebrate his 21st birthday on January 2. I’m going to visit Disney Tokyo and a Pokemon Cafe in Tokyo, take a train to Kyoto and go sightseeing at historic temples.
They planned to take off from Tucson on Christmas Day to Los Angeles, where they would catch their flight across the Pacific Ocean. They say they were told their flight was slightly delayed but had no indication that it was at serious risk of not taking off at all, and were unaware of the The Southwest was already experiencing constant unrest.
But when they arrived at the Tucson airport, they were met with confusion and miscommunication from the airline.
Southwest employees said they were still working on assembling a crew, but told passengers they should check their baggage anyway. “It was just a huge misunderstanding. One flight attendant was saying, ‘We’re not going to get to LAX,’ and another was saying let’s check our bags,” Rodriguez said. “It was a complete confusion.”
After all the conflicting information, the flight was finally canceled just about seven hours before the American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo was due to take off. The trip from Tucson to Los Angeles took about seven and a half hours.
“If we had been notified sooner we would have flown in and made it,” Rodriguez said, adding that they tried everything they could to get us another flight but were unable to make it work.
Their flight can only be rebooked on Wednesday at the earliest, but it will be 20 hours of travel and will include covering the difference in flight cost. It would also only leave them about five days in Japan, changing their travel plan by 8 days.
“We’re just devastated. We’re just in shock,” Rodriguez said, adding that as of Friday they hadn’t unpacked all their belongings because they were still struggling to deal with the situation.
They are now trying to recover as much of the flight as possible, including from Southwest, American Airlines, the hotel in Japan and Tokyo Disney, where they actually purchased the tickets, among other expenses.
Rodriguez said they received conflicting information from Southwest, with one email saying they would receive a full refund, while another said they would only receive airline credits for future use.
They purchased travel insurance for the American Airlines flight to Japan and hope that means covering the full price. But Tokyo Disney, which is not owned by The Walt Disney Company, generally does not issue refunds.
In all, Rodriguez said they came away with about $7,000.
They’re still hoping to reschedule a trip next year, depending on how much they can refund or reschedule, but they’re not sure when they’ll be able to make a trip that works for the whole family.
Rodriguez is a teacher, so she had this period off work, but will probably try to take a break from work in the spring because her time off doesn’t align with her son’s. Her husband, a retired member of the Army but still teaching lessons on the base, took off work for the trip and would have to try to do it again if the vacation was rescheduled.
Rodriguez said her eldest son is a college student who is “dedicated” to ROTC, a program that trains college students for military service, so he has limited time during which he can take a trip. He’s also a huge fan of Disney and Pokemon, which would have been the highlight of the trip for him, so when they offered to take him somewhere else at the last minute, he just said “no.”
Rodriguez said that in the future she might consider taking out travel insurance for the entire trip, rather than just large international trips, even though they already have travel medical insurance through the military. She also said she knows others may have had more challenging experiences with chaotic flight cancellations.
“I am grateful that we lived so close to family,” she said. “But it was really devastating.”
The family was among the thousands of Americans who Cancellation of flight experience This week after it was to southwest operational breakdown. The airline canceled more than 2,900 flights on Monday, accounting for approx Half of all canceled flights across the world that day. unrest Ripple through the travel industryleading to a shortage of car rentals and higher airfares.
Reached for comment, a Southwest spokesperson said, “We apologize to all of our customers affected by this disruption. Customers whose flights have been canceled are eligible for refunds and are encouraged to make requests for reasonable reimbursement of incidental expenses. These will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.”
The spokesperson also said that affected passengers can get help through a Travel disruptions portal on their site.
Tokyo Disney, which is owned by Oriental Land Co., could not immediately be reached for comment. The Walt Disney Company, which licenses intellectual property to Tokyo Disney, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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