A Chicago bride says her entire family missed her weekend wedding in Nevada because of Southwest Airlines’ massive cancellations that forced her parents to watch the event on FaceTime.
Kimberli Romano, 34, and her husband-to-be Kyle Hlavaty, 37, flew to their wedding destination on Oct. 6 without a hitch, but things didn’t go so smoothly for family members who were left behind on later flights.
Her parents and siblings in the Chicago area were scheduled to fly to the Valley of Fire wedding the day before the ceremony on Oct. 9, but were among those affected by the abrupt cancellation of more than 1,800 weekend flights through Southwest.
“So I’m going to call my parents right away and tell them to double-check everything because we just got word that the flight was cancelled,” Romani told CNN.
“And it turned out, of course, and I went crazy. i was so emotional’
She said she managed to book her parents another flight from Milwaukee on the morning of the Oct. 10 wedding, but that was also cancelled.
Other than her husband’s mother and aunt — who flew to Las Vegas earlier this week — no family was able to attend the special occasion in person.
Romano said her parents watched the ceremony via FaceTime.
“The service was spotty because we were in the mountains and stuff, but my mom said she could see most of it,” Romano said. “She couldn’t hear anything, but she could see most of it.”
Southwest Airlines issued “a tremendous apology” to its customers Monday, saying the weather was responsible for the cancellation of nearly 2,000 flights over the weekend.
The Dallas-based airline has refuted claims that workers going on strike in protest of a vaccine mandate caused staff shortages that forced the mass cancellations.
The flight changes prevented Romano’s family from attending the special occasion, although a few of her bridesmaids who had flown in earlier did attend.
However, her father couldn’t walk her down the aisle and her mother couldn’t help her prepare for her big day.
“It’s unbearable for a lot of people,” Romano told CNN. “And it’s very, very disappointing. I have defended Southwest for so long and have been a loyal customer of theirs for so long, and the way we were treated at the airport – they were so rude and disrespectful and had absolutely no regrets whatsoever. It’s very disturbing.’
Back in Illinois, Romano’s parents and older sisters were busy making the wedding. They spent hours researching other flight options but couldn’t find one that would get them to the 1pm wedding in time.
Although the wedding was in Las Vegas, it was not an elopement.
It was a planned ceremony with a lot of thought and money, said Renee Romano, the bride’s sister.
Romano was the first daughter in the family to get married, and her parents were devastated to miss it, her sister said.
“They are really devastated. They are still very upset,” Renee Romano told DailyMail.com. “I think the (sadness) has turned to anger because it’s just unbelievable that this could happen — and that Southwest let it happen and didn’t have a backup plan in case something like this happened.”
Now, Renee Romano said she is trying to get a refund from Southwest, which offered a flight credit to use on a future trip.
“I don’t want to use it for future flights,” she said. “I don’t want to fly them anymore after all this craziness, not knowing if this will ever happen again. I want my money back, so we’ll work on that and see what happens.’
Southwest told Dailymail.com on Thursday that they contacted the bride to offer their “sincere apologies.”