Despite delays and cancellations, Charlotte airport passengers make their way home

CHARLOTTE — If you’re trying to fly back home after Christmas, beware: Charlotte airport officials said Tuesday is one of the busiest holiday travel days of the year.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport has stayed busy, and for many, holiday travel has been a nightmare. That’s because some of those busy days have led to delays and flight cancellations.

There were fewer canceled flights Tuesday morning, but on Monday night, Charlotte Douglas had 350 flight delays and 33 cancellations. Channel 9 crews could also see a significant amount of unclaimed luggage.

Southwest Airlines has shown the most significant struggles, accounting for 60% of cancellations so far at Charlotte Douglas Tuesday. The United States Department of Transportation announced on Sunday that it would investigate the airline’s “unacceptable” number of cancellations and delays.

“USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service. The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan,” the department said in a tweet.

According to Flight Aware, at Charlotte Douglas, there were 113 delays and 20 flight cancellations Tuesday afternoon.

A traveler told Channel 9 he’s been traveling since Christmas Day trying to get to Toronto from Nashville. While he was talking, he pointed to his flight on the board and it says it was moved to 1:40 p.m., which means he will miss another layover and won’t get home until Wednesday now -- almost four days of traveling.

If you can, get to the airport early, check wait times for TSA lines and the status of your flight for any cancellations or delays.

“I’m calm now but I wasn’t calm yesterday,” passenger Namj Ghauri told Channel 9 Tuesday. “I was really exhausted spending 13 hours at the airport.”

‘Never had a day like today ever’

On of the other busiest travel days of the year at the airport, thousands of passengers dealt with flight cancellations and delays.

As of 3 p.m. Friday, nearly 250 flights had been canceled and another 520 were delayed in Charlotte, according to Flight Aware.

Channel 9′s Glenn Counts was at Charlotte Douglas where at times it felt like passengers were stacked on top of passengers as waits mounted.

Traveler Vickie Bale said she showed up at the airport in West Virginia at 4 a.m. before having her flight delayed and ultimately canceled seven hours later.

Instead of giving up, she drove with her daughter to Charlotte in hopes of catching a flight to Miami and on to Curaçao to visit her son, who is in the Air Force.

“I’ve traveled Europe, Africa, Brazil, you name it, I’ve traveled it,” Bale said. “Never had a day like today ever.”

Nationwide, more than 5,500 flights had been canceled on Friday, with another 10,000 being delayed.

Ronald King flew into Charlotte from Denver, Colorado, with an intended destination of Greenville, South Carolina. But when delays turned to a cancellation, his family made the drive to pick him up.

“For me, this is my last time getting on a plane, I’m going to drive everywhere I go from now on,” King said.

The Carolinas were two of many states that were battered by cold, high winds and elsewhere -- winter storms. The weather impacted travel plans all through the weekend.

This is a developing story. Check wsoctv.com for updates.

(WATCH BELOW: As travelers head out for holidays, hundreds of flights delayed and canceled out of Charlotte)

Hannah Goetz

Hannah Goetz, wsoctv.com

Hannah is a reporter for WSOC-TV.