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Southwest Airlines under scrutiny after leaving stunning amount of passengers stranded

Southwest CEO apologies for mass cancelations
Southwest CEO apologies for mass cancelations 02:43

NEW YORK -- Southwest Airlines is still scrambling to get back on track, as it continues to cancel flights across the country.

CBS2 saw firsthand how the fallout is playing out at LaGuardia Airport.

The lines shortened significantly Tuesday as the travel mess started to get sorted out with so many people are still trying to get home.

Southwest passengers have had by far the hardest time. The storm hit each of the airlines' major hubs, from Denver to Dallas to Chicago, snowballing cancellations beyond control.

"Our IT infrastructure for our scheduling software is vastly outdated. It can't handle the number of pilots, flight attendants that we have in the system with our complex route network," said Capt. Michael Santoro, vice president of the Southwest Airlines Pilot Association.

Watch Jessi Mitchell's report

Southwest struggles to get back on track after winter storm 01:46

While Southwest said it was fully staffed for the storm, the backlog of calls for help rebooking left crews and passengers waiting for hours on end.

"I was on hold with Southwest for about an hour and a half and there was no communication on what was happening," passenger Heather Smith said.

"I'm one of several people who experienced multiple cancellations, a night in the airport, a Christmas Eve in a random hotel. I got no messaging through all of that time, and that's when the message needs to happen," passenger Christopher Rosales said.

Meanwhile, agents are putting people on other airlines and even charter buses to get them to their destinations -- if they can wait long enough for the arrangements.

"We highly suggest and ask our folks, do what you need to do if you've already left. Take care of yourself. Do what you need to do for your family. Keep your receipts and we'll make sure you're taken care of," Southwest Airlines spokesperson Jay McVay said.

Southwest currently has no plans to change its protocol for rebooking flights, saying its legendary hospitality comes second only to safety.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is blasting Southwest for its storm preparedness and response. He will be on CBS Mornings on Wednesday.

The Department of Transportation said in a tweet that it's "concerned about Southwest's unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of a lack of prompt customer service." 

Travelers stranded at Newark Liberty International Airport 01:28

For more information: 

LaGuardia Airport (LGA):

John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK):

Newark Airport (EWR):

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