A bride-to-be has opened up about her “devastation” after missing her wedding day that cost more than $70,000 and spending New Year’s Eve alone due to a canceled Southwest flight.
Katie Demko, 46, of St. Louis, was scheduled to meet her fiancé Michael in Belize for a Dec. 30 wedding.
However, when she arrived at the airport last Tuesday with friends and family in tow, she was told her flight had been canceled due to insufficient flight attendants on call and no way of catching another departing plane.
Meanwhile, her future husband made it to Belize with his mother and other family members on another airline – leaving the couple more than 2,000 miles apart.
Katie Demko, from St. Louis, was due to meet her fiancé Michael in Belize on December 30 for a destination wedding, but her flight was cancelled
The happy couple pictured here were supposed to be tying the knot in Belize with friends and family in tow, but their plans were thwarted by travel chaos
“Devastating. I don’t know how else to explain how we’re all feeling right now.”
Katie Demko is set to miss her Belize wedding due to cancellations in the Southwest. pic.twitter.com/TeHzxKkryh
— CNN This Morning (@CNNThisMorning) December 29, 2022
Demko told CNN that she cried all morning because travel agents couldn’t find alternative travel plans.
Her friends also tried to offer her their tickets when they flew on Wednesday, but the airline was unable to change names and change bookings.
Recalling the chain of events, the mother-of-three said: “Michael is here without a bride – it’s hard to get married without your bride there.
“It was very important for Michael and I to have our children with us and our family to be there for this time.”
Appropriately, Demko revealed a photo of a beverage cup they had made before their big day, emblazoned with the word “un-Belize-able” and the scheduled date of their wedding
Demko is just one of thousands of travelers whose south-west flights have been canceled around the Christmas weekend due to storms and operational difficulties
The couple booked Victoria House on Belize’s west coast as the venue for their wedding, but the resort was unable to offer a refund or reschedule the event.
Room rates range from $210 for a cabin to $2,125 a night for a five-bed villa, and Demko estimates “well over” $70,000 was lost in the hotel’s rooms alone.
Catering was another lost expense, but they were able to shift some of the wedding services, including photography and floral arrangements.
While the financial impact was a blow, Demko said the whole drama had a bigger impact.
She explained: “Yes, there is definitely a cost involved, but more importantly, we have so many of my family members and so many of my friends who put so much time and emotion into it [and] looking forward to this day. We’re just devastated.’
Appropriately, Demko revealed a photo of a beverage mug they had made before their big day, emblazoned with the word “un-Belize-able” and the date their wedding was supposed to take place.
The couple spent New Year’s Eve on the phone rather than ringing it in together as husband and wife.
Since the travel debacle, Demko says Southwest hasn’t reached out to her “even to apologize.”
The pharmaceutical saleswoman says she was particularly surprised at the lack of contact and that she is a frequent flyer with the airline.
The couple booked Victoria House on Belize’s west coast as the venue for their wedding, but the resort was unable to offer a refund or reschedule the event
Demko, pictured with her three children, is just one of thousands of travelers whose south-west flights have been canceled around Christmas weekend due to storms and operational difficulties
She concluded, “I know they’re probably dealing with a lot because of all the mess, but not a single person from this company has come forward.”
In regards to postponing the wedding, the bride-to-be told DailyMail.com they may want to make a second try on Presidents Day in February, “but we’re not sure if we can do that logistically”.
Demko is just one of thousands of travelers whose south-west flights have been canceled around the Christmas weekend due to storms and operational difficulties.
The Dallas-based airline was responsible for half of the world’s canceled flights as of Monday, December 26.
As a result, federal authorities have pledged a rigorous review of what’s happening at the airline, with all eyes on outdated crew planning technology that left flight crews out of place after the storm hit and essentially shut down almost all of the airline’s operations brought to a standstill.
In response to the incident, Southwest told DailyMail.com: “We appreciate the continued patience and support of our valued customers and apologize for the inconvenience over the past week.”
“When needed, we offer our customers multiple methods to get support from us [via our website].
‘We look forward to the opportunity to respond to all of our customers’ needs over the coming days as we strive to return to our former levels of hospitality and reliability in the South West.’
Southwest CEO Robert Jordan said in an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday that after security, there’s no greater focus than refunding customers and reuniting them with their luggage.
“This has impacted so many people, so many customers over the holiday season. Our employees are affected. And I’m very sorry about that,” Jordan said. “You just can’t apologize enough because we love our customers, we love our employees and we’ve really impacted their plans.”
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