Southwest Airlines canceled her entire family’s flights and they missed her wedding day

(CNN) – What was supposed to be a special day over the weekend instead became an emotional roller coaster for a bride whose family couldn’t attend her wedding after Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights across the country.

Kimberli Romano and Kyle Hlavaty live in Chicago, along with most of his family. The couple flew to Las Vegas for their weekend wedding on Wednesday, Oct.6 and had no problems.

A bridesmaid’s flight was delayed on Friday. But it wasn’t until Saturday morning, the day before the wedding, that the couple worried that Romano’s parents wouldn’t make it.

Hlavaty’s friend was supposed to be on the same flight as Romano’s parents from Chicago Midway International Airport. He called to tell the couple that his flight was canceled and he didn’t know what was going on as he was still waiting with customer service.

“So, I immediately called my parents and told them to double check everything because we just got the notification that the flight was canceled,” he said. “And of course, it turns out it was, and I was freaking out. I was so emotional.

“This was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was marry without my parents.”

Southwest said a number of problems caused weekend cancellations, including bad weather and a brief glitch at the air traffic control center in Jacksonville, Florida. These problems have caused minimal disruption at other airlines, and Southwest admitted to employees on Monday that things have gotten out of hand because they lack adequate staff.

CNN contacted Southwest Airlines for comment.

Two years of planning, a change of location

Romano and Hlavaty got engaged in October 2019. The couple immediately began planning a wedding in October 2021 and was originally supposed to be near Chicago.

With everything so fluid due to the pandemic, the couple rethought their plans in March 2020 and opted for a smaller ceremony with 18 guests in Overton, Nevada, about 60 miles east of Las Vegas.

Kimberli Romano and her husband Kyle Hlavaty.

Kimberli Romano and her husband Kyle Hlavaty.

Photograph of onyx and arrow

Romano’s family tried to fly to nearby airports in Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Diego, anything that would get them nearby, but to no avail.

“Everyone was climbing. Kyle and I were trying to find flights. Obviously we couldn’t find anyone on the phone. We actually went to the Las Vegas airport to try and talk to an agent to see what we could do.

“It’s unbearable for a lot of people,” he said. “And it’s very, very disappointing. I’ve been defending Southwest for so long and been their loyal customer for so long, and the way we were treated at the airport – they were so rude and disrespectful and had absolutely no remorse. for anything. It’s very upsetting. “

Romano managed to get his parents on a scheduled flight from Milwaukee for Sunday morning at 6am, but at midnight he learned that that flight was also canceled.

Aside from Hlavaty’s mom and aunt, who had flown to Las Vegas earlier in the week, the couple had no family members present. Her parents watched via FaceTime as their daughter walked down the aisle.

“The service was questionable because we were in the mountains and everything, but my mom said she was able to see most of them,” Romano said. “He couldn’t hear anything, but he could see most of it.”

Over 2,000 miles away from home

The couple considered postponing the wedding, but their parents encouraged them to continue.

“We were back and forth about what to do,” he said. “But then, this was what we were working so hard for. This is what we had been saving for so long.”

Not having his family present at his wedding was heartbreaking for Romano. The newlyweds plan to celebrate again when they get back from their honeymoon, but she said it won’t be the same.

“There is honestly nothing they (Southwest Airlines) can do to make up for what has already been lost, what has been taken from me, essentially,” he said. “You know, those are memories that can’t be replaced just by having another one.”

He still wants an apology.

“I’m sure I’m not the only person who was hugely bothered by what happened over the weekend,” she said. “I’m looking for sincere excuses more than anything else. Money is money. Money doesn’t bring back memories.”

The couple are in California right now and plan to drive back to Chicago next Tuesday.

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