‘Desperate’ woman pays $100 to skip airport queue amid Southwest Airlines chaos

‘I have my two kids, we’re by ourselves and I’ve no other choice,’ says mother caught up in delays

Lucy Thackray
Friday 30 December 2022 15:05 GMT
Woman pays fellow traveller $100 to skip airport queue

A woman has paid a fellow traveller $100 to skip an entire check-in queue in order to catch her flight, amid widespread US flight chaos.

The passenger told a passing journalist that she was “desperate” and “had no other choice”, in a video of their conversation posted to Twitter by Fox 5’s Billy Heath III.

In the clip, taken at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the unnamed mother of two says: “I gave someone some money so I can cut [the queue]... I know it looks terrible.”

When Mr Heath asks her why she gave the man in front of her a $100 bill, the woman says: “I’m desperate and my flight leaves in an hour, so... I have my two kids, we’re by ourselves and I’ve no other choice.”

“Someone got $100 dollars out of me, so they can go shopping.”

Showing two small children sitting in a buggy, the woman added that she was “praying that she got [her] flight” and that “my kids don’t have too many meltdowns”.

The video shows long queues waiting to check in for Southwest Airlines flights at Atlanta’s international airport.

The US carrier has had a disastrous week following a “bomb cyclone” weather event which delayed and cancelled thousands of US flights.

Passengers have found themselves stranded far from home in the major travel week around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, with many more delayed or cancelling holidays, and hundreds missing their luggage due to the chaos.

Twitter users were divided on the concept of paying to jump airport queues. One wrote: “I love this. I would pay.”

“I felt so bad for ALL the parents during my 13 hours at the airport on Friday! I saw parents play every game imaginable to keep their children busy. I saw SO many toddlers running around while their parents chased after them to get them tired,” wrote a user named Debs.

Not everyone was a fan of the Atlanta mother’s approach, with Pete Jolicoeur tweeting: “Yeah but she cut the *whole* line, not just the one person she paid $100 to. Let’s not praise this trash attitude.”

User @KMax04 agreed, commenting: “Imagine arriving an hour early because you planned ahead, then being in the line for 45 min and not moving up because people are cutting in front of you. Plus you got none of the ‘cut’ money.”

“I would have strangled someone had they tried to skip the line in Denver. After waiting 3 plus hours many, many times?” wrote another follower.

“They should have someone walking through the line to prioritize those whose flights are sooner… or actually leaving vs re-scheduling,” wrote @Imeaannn.

Southwest Airlines has struggled to recover in the days following the initial disruption, with more than 2,800 flights delayed and more than 3,000 cancelled on Wednesday (28 December) alone. It then cancelled a further 2,300 on Thursday (29 December).

According to the FlightAware tracking service, more than 91 per cent of all canceled flights in the US early on Wednesday were from Southwest.

On Tuesday the airline’s CEO, Robert Jordan, blamed its “highly complex” network for the displacement of so many aircraft, acknowledging: “We have some real work to do in making this right”.

He said the airline would work to a reduced schedule but hoped that normal service would resume by Friday.

The Independent has approached Southwest Airlines for comment.

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