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ACL goers, weekend travelers stranded in Austin after sweeping Southwest Airlines cancellations

Southwest Airlines saw dozens of cancellations in Austin and thousands nationwide amid one of the busiest travel weekends. (ABIA)

ACL goers and performers alike may have found their weekend trip extended on Sunday as they arrived at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to find that dozens of Southwest Airline flights had been canceled due to "disruptive weather."

The national airline cancelled 72 flights in Austin on Sunday and Monday morning and delayed 65 more, leaving weekend travelers stranded and forced to find alternate ways home during one of the airport's busiest weekends.

Hundreds of travelers in Austin, including ACL performer Maggie Rose, found themselves working through the issues for hours with backlogged customer service employees.

Many—including Austinites Jillianne, Laura and Heather, who told KVUE they drove 20 hours to Washington, D.C. to attend a wedding amid the chaos—spent hundreds or even thousands working to fix their traveling woes.

Nationwide, Southwest canceled or delayed well over 2,000 flights on Sunday—over 60% of its planned flights—and attributed the widespread chaos with air traffic control and bad weather conditions in a Twitter apology.

But some frustrated customers, many of whom saw near-sunny skies, thought the airlines' vaccine mandate for pilots may have been the culprit. Austin saw clear skies through Sunday afternoon but was hit with storms late Sunday night.

Travelers claimed that airline employees talked of a "sick-out" among pilots who refused to comply with the mandate.

The "sick-out" theory, which has been unsubstantiated by the company, got the attention of conservative politicians including Senator Ted Cruz.

The airline denied the allegations in a press release on Saturday.

"We can say with confidence that our pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions," the company said. "Our pilots will continue to overcome SWA management's poor planning, as well as any external operational challenges."

Regardless of the culprit, travelers going through the Austin airport are hoping to see some clearer communication and financial compensation as the nationwide travel turbulence begins to subside.

But many, including Orange County resident Lisa Szal, are resigned to reschedule flights with other carriers as they await a hopeful refund.

Szal, who couldn't get access to a live agent for a refund on her flight early Monday morning, told Austonia she's jumping ship to American Airlines for weeks to come, including a conference trip to Colorado on Sunday.

"It's funny because I just thought, 'I don't have any faith that I'm even going to get there,'" Szal said. "So I booked another flight on American."


1923 Lake Austin mansion demolition request pitting preservationists and some neighbors against owner and city preservation office
Austin Monitor

By Jonathan Lee

The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.

The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'

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Freaky Floats and other Austin food & drink news
Austin Motel

What's new in Austin food & drink this week:

  • Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
  • Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
  • Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
  • Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
  • Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
  • Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
  • The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
  • Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
  • P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.