PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A Salem woman and her father, who has dementia, are among the thousands of Southwest Airlines passengers stranded across the country — without their luggage or medication.
December started off as a dream vacation for Ashley Kramer and her dad.
“My dad and I, who is a stroke patient, who also suffers from dementia, decided to take a once in a lifetime trip. We left on December 12th. We went to Disney World for six days, had a great time,” said Kramer.
They went on to enjoy a 9-day Caribbean cruise but when they started to return home Monday from Miami, things took a turn as they found their St. Louis connection would now be their stopping point with Southwest Airlines.
“We weren’t supposed to get off the plane and then we were told ‘sorry, this is as far as you’re going,’” said Kramer. “We waited four and a half hours to re-book our flight and we can’t get home until at least December 31st.”
After hours at the airport, they worried about the risk of respiratory illnesses spreading to her immuno-compromised dad, so they went to a hotel. But left with no luggage and no idea where it is, they’re without the medications her dad relies on, who is already feeling unwell.
“The Salem VA has been helping us the best they can. They’re going to try to overnight us some medication. Hoping it gets here tomorrow,” said Kramer.
Kramer says all rental cars were sold out and potential flights through other airlines were selling for thousands of dollars for main cabin, out of their budget. For now, they’re paying out-of-pocket for a hotel, food and transportation.
“They eventually told us they will reimburse our costs but if you don’t have the funds available, people are living in the airport,” said Kramer.
Close to three dozen Southwest flights set to arrive or take off from Portland International Airport on Tuesday were canceled and around the same number were canceled Monday. Southwest Airlines released a video statement Tuesday evening, calling the wide-scale disruptions “unacceptable” and encouraged customers to explore “self-service options.”