Would-be air travelers at the San Antonio International Airport formed a line that snaked from Southwest Airlines’ help desks in Terminal A all the way into Terminal B Tuesday morning, scrambling to salvage travel plans days after a winter storm forced thousands of flight cancelations across the country.

Canceled flights and delays are also affecting migrants’ travel to their host cities, overflowing the migrant resource center, which has begun busing migrants to the airport to spend the night there as they wait for flights out of San Antonio.

A spokeswoman for the San Antonio International Airport said it is working with the city’s Human Services department to assist migrants at the airport.

She encouraged all passengers to check with their airlines before arriving at the airport.

“San Antonio International Airport and our airline partners remain in constant communication,” she said. “We apologize for any inconveniences our travelers have experienced. We are committed to providing smooth experiences for everyone using our airport.”

The vast majority of canceled flights were on Southwest Airlines, which canceled 2,557 flights on Tuesday, 63% of its total flights, according to cancellation data from FlightAware. The day before, Southwest canceled more than 2,909 flights.

Southwest said in a statement Monday that it is working to address “wide-scale disruption by rebalancing the airline and repositioning crews,” in the aftermath of Winter Storm Elliott. “On the other side of this, we’ll work to make things right for those we’ve let down, including our employees.”

At least 50 people stood in the line with their luggage at the San Antonio airport, talking to others experiencing the same or scrambling for solutions on their smartphones, as airport volunteers tried to answer travelers’ questions, but mainly pointed them to the line.

Near the end of the line, 25-year-old Zachary Brown and his girlfriend waited with three large bags. The pair had traveled from upstate New York to spend a week in San Antonio, Brown’s hometown. 

Their flight was scheduled to leave at 5:10 a.m. Tuesday, but was canceled Monday night. The cancellation caused headaches for the pair. They had to extend their rental car agreement, let their employers know they were stuck and figure out how to deal with the prolonged stay. 

They waited in the slow-moving line to ask when the next flight would be, in hopes of planning now-cancelled responsibilities around the new time frame. 

“Obviously you can’t stop [the] weather,” Brown said. “But I also think that if that happens, I do think some of these airlines should do better and not just cancel your flight. They should say, ‘Your flight is canceled, here are your options.’”

A spokeswoman for Catholic Charities, which now manages the migrant resource center it has renamed Centro de Bienvenida, said the nonprofit is “working diligently to ensure that basic needs [of migrants in their care] are met and travel arrangements are adjusted accordingly.”

In Terminal B Tuesday, several migrants waited for their flights, most of which were scheduled to leave Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

Miriam Gonzalez, who arrived in San Antonio Monday from Nicaragua, had been traveling alone for 15 days when she went to print her ticket at a kiosk. It was then she was notified of the delay.

Her flight to Chicago was originally scheduled to leave at 1 p.m. Tuesday, but was delayed until the same time Wednesday. Although it was an inconvenience, Gonzalez said she was tired but felt at peace knowing she was in the U.S.

“Everything is normal, one must stay calm,” she said.

Other airlines have also canceled or delayed flights due to the weather, but Southwest had the highest number of canceled flights, according to the data. 

In its statement, the airline said it was fully staffed and prepared for the approaching holiday weekend when weather interfered. The most recent cancellations are due to the “volume and magnitude” of those changes.

The airline also said it would only be able to fly one-third of its schedule for the “next several days.” 

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Raquel Torres

Raquel Torres is the San Antonio Report's breaking news reporter. She previously worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph and is a 2020 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.