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Air travel nightmares inside Oakland airport as winter weather ravages US

A TSA worker sorts through bags piled up at Oakland International Airport’s baggage claim. | Garrett Leahy/The Standard

Oakland Airport travelers have told how their holiday travel plans have been thrown into chaos as the nation is ravaged by extreme winter weather.

Amanda Glazer wanted to visit her cousin in San Diego, but her holiday getaway quickly turned into a travel nightmare.

“It’s just been a disaster,” said Glazer, who lives in Oakland. 

Glazer planned to fly Southwest from Oakland International Airport, but said the airline was unable to book her return flight from San Diego, so she backed out of the trip just to be safe, given the large number of cancellations happening nationally.

READ MORE: Traveler Faces 6-Day Wait in Oakland Airport as Weather Chaos Continues

Amanda Glazer waits for her bags at Oakland International Airport. | Garrett Leahy/The Standard

“I didn’t want to get stuck,” she said.

Worse yet, Glazer has been waiting at the airport for two hours to get her luggage from the baggage claim, but her belongings still haven’t arrived.

“I’m worried it went to San Diego,” Glazer said. 

For now, Glazer can only hope her belongings eventually arrive at the airport or are sent back to her home address by Southwest.

Southwest Airlines announced Monday it will fly about one-third of scheduled flights over the next several days as the winter weather continues to wreak havoc on holiday travel across the U.S.

The volume of cancellations prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation to say it is looking into whether Southwest could have done more to prevent them.

An Eight-Hour Wait, a 10-Hour Drive

A large amount of unclaimed baggage sits inside Oakland International Airport on Dec. 27, 2022. | Video by Garrett Leahy

Alameda resident Anthony Tablin didn’t fly back to Oakland from his trip to Las Vegas as planned.

He waited for eight hours at Las Vegas airport for a pilot to show up to fly his plane. Then, Southwest canceled his flight.

Tablin ended up driving a rental car for around 10 hours to Oakland, but his luggage has been stuck at Las Vegas airport, waiting to be transferred to Oakland. He is now facing even more lost hours waiting at Oakland’s baggage claim.

“If they just canceled the flight that would have been OK, but they made me wait eight hours,” Tablin said. “I could have just driven down here at like 7 this morning if they just canceled right away.”

Anthony Tablin waits at Oakland International Airport’s baggage claim. | Garrett Leahy/The Standard

There have been 130 canceled Southwest flights and 55 delays at Oakland Airport as of publication Tuesday, according to flight tracking service FlightAware.

These are just a fraction of cancellations happening nationwide as Winter Storm Elliott has caused high winds, snowfall and frigid temperatures for most of the country.

A Southwest Airlines spokesperson urged passengers to use this link to check flight status and said: “We were fully staffed and prepared for the approaching holiday weekend when the severe weather swept across the continent, where Southwest is the largest carrier in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the U.S. These operational conditions forced daily changes to our flight schedule at a volume and magnitude that still has the tools our teams use to recover the airline operating at capacity.”

You can check your Oakland Airport flight status here.