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Southwest Airlines Offers Explanations For Flight Cancellations, But Industry Expert Not Buying Them

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Columbus Day holiday weekend has been a headache for thousands of people trying to catch flights.

Southwest Airlines cancelled hundreds of trips over the weekend, and saw some residual delays from that even on Monday, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported.

"Very frustrating, a very busy week, so I really just want be home," traveler Emily Santiago said.

READ MOREPassengers At LaGuardia, Other Airports Around Country Miffed By Southwest Airlines Mass Flight Cancellations

Santiago showed up at LaGuardia Airport on Monday morning trying to catch a Southwest flight on standby to Houston.

"My cousin had to like ... hers were cancelled last night, so she had to move to United this morning," Santiago said.

Southwest canceled hundreds of flights Monday, after already telling travelers on 1,100 flights on Sunday -- more than 30% of scheduled trips -- they'd have to find another way home.

Paris Drakemore said her mom managed to rebook her flight to Atlanta by phone.

"She was really stressed and she didn't want me to call her," Drakemore said.

Southwest said the problems stem from weather challenges in its Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, claiming also it was compounded by unexpected air traffic control issues. But a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson said there were no staffing shortages since Friday.

"What really bothers me is Southwest just trying to blame FAA, or traffic control systems. It's like saying the dog ate my homework," said Henry H. Harteveldt, a travel industry expert for the Atmosphere Research Group.

"You have a little more extra demand and I think it just takes a little bit to push these things over the edge and it's hard to catch up," added Daniel Burnham, senior member operations specialist for Scott's Cheap Flights.

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This comes after just last week Southwest announced all employees in the U.S. must be vaccinated by Dec. 8 if they want to remain within the company.

"Unofficially, what I've heard is there are some rogue pilots who are anti-vaccine folks. They are not showing up for work," Harteveldt said.

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The Southwest pilots union said, "There are no work slowdowns or sickouts."

On Monday at LaGuardia, most flights were either on time or slightly delayed. However, experts say with increased demand, prepare to experience some issues during the holidays.

"Buy travel medical insurance or trip protection because we're seeing more and more of these situations this summer we experienced with Spirit and American," said Omar Kaywan, co-founder of Goose Insurance.

Or you can call the credit card company you booked your flight with. There is sometimes insurance built into that purchase.

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