Flight trouble forcing some Utah fans to change Rose Bowl transportation plans
SALT LAKE CITY — The Southwest Airlines flight crisis continues to leave many Utahns stranded and unable to reach their destinations. A lot of Utah fans planning to travel to California for the Rose Bowl aren’t sure if their flights will make it.
Passengers continue to get messages about delays and cancellations. Several flights heading to Los Angeles or Burbank from Salt Lake City were canceled Wednesday.
The airline’s CEO said the company was working to return to normal before next week, but with kickoff scheduled for 3 p.m. on Monday in Pasadena, many Utah football fans don’t want to chance it.
Lifelong Utes fan Matthew Berrett’s flights to and from Los Angeles weren’t canceled yet when his family decided to forgo the flights and drive. He said relying on the Southwest flight to depart wasn’t a risk they were willing to take.
“We canceled the flights preemptively,” Berrett said. “We don’t want to wake up New Year’s Eve, go to the airport which is already crazy, wait in line and then all of a sudden them say, ‘Oh sorry, it’s canceled,’ and then it’s 8 o’clock on New Year’s Eve, now we have to drive to LA late.”
Berrett and his wife purchased the Southwest plane tickets weeks ago.
“The Pac-12 championship happened on Friday, and that Sunday we bought them to LA,” he said.
Berrett drove to the game last year and got stuck in a snowstorm on the way. He and his wife and father decided they’d rather fly this time.
“We were supposed to fly from Salt Lake to Denver and then Denver to LAX,” he said. “Five-hour flight time there and back both times, but hey, it beats a 14-hour car ride, was our initial thought.”
They heard about the Southwest Airlines meltdown on Monday and kept an eye on the situation.
“I texted my dad just saying, ‘Hey it’s not looking good,'” Berrett said. “My dad even texted me and said, ‘The CEO just made a video.'”
They saw the cancellations and piles of luggage buildup, but their Southwest flights were still scheduled to depart.
“It still said they were on time, I was still getting emails from Southwest saying, ‘get ready for your flight to LA! It’s going to be super awesome!’ and deep down inside we were all like, ‘It’s probably not going to happen,'” Berrett said.
They made the decision Wednesday morning to drive instead.
“We got some refund and a credit, which, who knows if we’re going to use it,” he said.
They said the road trip will be worth it.
“You’ve got to see them win, you’ve got to,” Berrett said. “And if they do, and I hope they do, it’ll be one for the history books.”
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