Southwest Passengers Recall Three-Day Nightmare Travel Experience

Image courtesy of Stranded in Punta Cana

There are travel hiccups that keep passengers from getting to their destination by a few hours. And then there are ordeals that keep people in limbo for days. Case in point: a Southwest Airlines flight from the Dominican Republic to Atlanta that turned into a three-day real life nightmare. 

Southwest Airlines flight 1239 was set to take off from Punta Cana on Sunday night with its 160 passengers when travel plans went out the window, 11 Alive reports.

According to passengers, they had been waiting inside the plane for about an hour when the pilot announced there was a mechanical issue and they would have to spend another night in paradise.

“They told us that we were gonna have to stay they night and they would put us in a hotel,” one passenger recalls. ”We were fine with that. We thought, safety first.”

Except, it wasn’t paradise, as the passengers quickly found out. Instead, they tell 11 Alive that the hotel was dirty and all around unacceptable.

“It was so filthy. There were bugs everywhere. There was blood on the sheets, feces on the walls,” one passenger alleges.

Others say that the hotel tried to accommodate as many stranded travelers as possible by putting strangers in rooms together.

“They wanted four people per room, so whether you knew each other or not, they wanted you in a room,” another traveler tells 11 Alive.

Several of the travelers decided they couldn’t stay in the hotel, and chose to relocate to another resort at their own expense.

One couple tells NBC Chicago that their bill quickly reached $500 for the hotel and transportation back to the airport on Monday.

On Monday, the passengers, ready for the trek home, faced more issues

“So they board us but the minute we got on we knew something was wrong because it was hot on the plane,” a passenger tells NBC DFW. “I mean it was hot.”

Unimpressed with the travel accommodations and continued plane issues, the passengers created a Facebook page “Stranded in Punta Cana” to air their grievances.

After spending another hour on the hot plane, the pilot once again canceled the trip because of a mechanical issue.

Passengers tell 11 Alive that after complaining to the airline about the previous night’s accommodations, Southwest agreed to move travelers to another hotel Monday evening.

Tuesday’s travel plans were also mired with issues, NBC DFW reports. When passengers arrived they were told the crew tasked with flying them home had met their maximum number of hours allowed, and a second crew had to be brought in. That translated to a few more hours of waiting.

Eventually, the plane took off on Tuesday evening, with passengers applauding.

Southwest Airlines apologized for the inconvenience in a statement to NBC Chicago, noting that it “offered a gesture of goodwill to each customer in the amount of two $200 vouchers to use as travel credit for future travel, arranged hotel accommodations for two nights in Punta Cana, and are in the process of offering a one-way refund.”

However, the airline says it will not pay for other expenses, including food, taxis, and hotels that were booked by passengers.

Despite the efforts at a mea culpa, some passengers say they won’t be traveling with the airline again.

“I think it should be more than that,” one traveler said. “A lot more.”

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Southwest Airlines Flight Became Three-Day Ordeal [NBC DFW]
‘It Was Disgusting’: Dream Honeymoon Turned To Traveling Nightmare, Newlyweds Say [NBC Chicago]
Southwest Airlines strands passengers for days in Punta Cana [11 Alive]