Travelers at Houston airports brace missing their flight after seeing long lines at check-in

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Monday, December 26, 2022
Winter weather domino effect: Long lines and baggage backup at Hobby
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We have bad news for anyone flying out of Houston airports on Monday. Here are the delays, cancellations, and luggage backups our ABC13 cameras saw.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The travel nightmares we've seen all week during the Christmas holiday are continuing into Monday. From super long lines at check-in to canceled flights to a sea of unclaimed luggage, travelers at Houston airports are struggling.

At Bush airport in Terminal A, ABC13 saw the longest line at the Spirit Airlines counter from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., with people wrapped around the waiting area several times and pouring out to the entrance area. As of 12:30 p.m. Monday, Flight Aware showed there were 60 canceled flights at Bush with 25 from United, 20 from Southwest, and 10 from Spirit.

As far as cancellations go, we saw four that were scheduled for Monday morning to Cleveland, Atlanta, LaGuardia, and Nashville.

SEE RELATED STORY: Flight cancellations topped 2,800 on Christmas Day

One woman who is traveling back to Atlanta after visiting family in Houston was already bracing herself to potentially miss her flight after seeing the long line.

"I'm seeing too much. I've never been in a line this long ever in my life, and I've been on earth for a long time. It's a lot to take in, but I knew there was a line. I didn't know it was going to be this hectic," Vanessa Ratcliff said.

SEE RELATED STORY: Millions of Texans expected to travel as frigid conditions move in

As for baggage claim, the area for Southwest Airlines was absolutely packed at Hobby Airport.

In the video above, you can see a time lapse ABC13 camera filmed of the check-in counters upstairs, and the beginning to end of the baggage claim office.

As of 11 a.m., we counted 30 Southwest flights that have been canceled out of Hobby.

In a statement to ABC13, a representative with Southwest Airlines said:

"While I don't have figures from specific airports where we operate, we are still experiencing disruptions across our network as a result of Winter Storm Elliott's lingering effects on the totality of our operation. With the weather now considerably more favorable, we continue work to stabilize and improve our operation. We are re-accommodating as many Customers as possible, based on available space, whose itineraries have been disrupted. Those whose flights have been canceled may request a full refund or receive a flight credit, which does not expire."

One couple from Galveston said they had their flight to New Orleans canceled on Sunday, shortly before it was supposed to take off. They had to drive back to Houston on Monday in hopes of tracking down their luggage.

"I was told that our bags went to New Orleans. So what we don't understand is if there was a flight that went to New Orleans, why was it not taking us with our bags as opposed to telling us we couldn't get on the plane and taking our bags instead?," Chris Murray said.

Over at Bush Airport, the situation was not as bad from earlier in the morning.

A few passengers who had their flights canceled said what frustrated them the most is not being informed earlier so they could make other plans.

"I was baffled, because we usually get a heads up two to three hours beforehand. But this time, the cancellation happened last minute. They said there was an ice storm happening in New York right now," Marco Mersier, whose flight to LaGuardia was canceled, said. "They're telling me the next flight that I can leave on isn't until Thursday."

Security is a completely different story. TSA at both airports have fairly short waits, so if travelers are able to make it past the check-in counter and their flight is on time, it should be smooth sailing from there.

Regardless, experts advise travelers to give themselves at least two to three hours more to get through the airport.

Travelers can also check their flight status on their airline's website or mobile app.

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