Canceled flights leave hundreds stranded in Cleveland on Christmas Eve

Published: Dec. 24, 2022 at 10:51 PM EST

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Hundreds of people are stranded in Cleveland and won’t make it home for Christmas, after learning their flights from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport were canceled on Christmas Eve.

One traveler after another was upset, angry and disappointed after learning of the cancellations in some cases, an hour after their flight should have departed.

Hundreds of people stood in line at the Spirit Airline counter trying to get a refund or find out if they could be rebooked in time to make it home for the holidays, Nalini Morris of Canton and her mother tell 19 News that the only notice they received on their phone is that their flight to Tampa was on time, “I can’t find any other flights today and everything is sold out for Christmas Day also.”

Nyell O’Herald of Cleveland was headed to her home in Atlanta, her flight also canceled an hour after the plane should have left the runway, “This is the worst Christmas ever. I don’t want to be here. It’s cold. I’m frustrated.”

While most people were told flights on various airlines were canceled because of the weather, Ryan Fedor and his wife Grace of Streetsboro, say they were told their flight to Tampa had no pilot, “They told us it was due to weather but the whole time we’re sitting in the terminal waiting and asking what’s going on, they said they don’t have pilots. I just don’t understand how you book a flight without pilots.”

A mother of 3 who asked not to be identified said for years she has flown from Florida to Ohio to pick up her kids and then catch a return flight the very same day. But, this Christmas she’s stranded and accuses Spirit Airlines of not even offering her family anywhere to stay, “We don’t have any arrangements made at all and it’s Christmas. Everything is already booked, there is no flights out until the 29th and I have to be back to work on Monday. So, me and my kids are going to spend the rest of their winter break in a hotel?”

But, the Fedors say you can’t just cancel Christmas, so, since their flight was canceled they will drive all night by car, “The flight with delays and everything, even with other airlines is going to be 19 hours. So, we might as well take the 16-hour drive in the weather, rather than wait until Wednesday to fly. We’re going to go from here and drive. We have someone coming here to get us.”

Numerous customers who planned to travel on Spirit Airlines told us they were told their flights to Tampa and Atlanta were canceled because there was no pilot.

A supervisor at the Spirit Airlines counter said the cancellations were because of the weather and the next available flights are on Thursday.

Spirit did offer refunds and re-booked customer flights.

Frontier said all their flights out of Cleveland were canceled on Saturday due to the weather along with Southwest, who also had a number of canceled flights.