BALTIMORE, Md. (WDCW/WHTM) — Southwest Airlines canceled all its flights for Monday night at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, causing many to leave after hearing that the earliest date they could board a plane with the airline was New Year’s Eve.

An employee said that the scene at baggage claim was worse than the line that had formed during the day as passengers waited to claim their luggage.

On the official BWI Twitter page, the airport says those traveling should confirm their flight status with their airline prior to heading to the airport. They also recommend arriving two hours early for domestic travel and three hours early for international flights.

The U.S. Department of Transportation also released a statement on Twitter about the cancellations saying, “USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service. The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said early Tuesday morning he is “tracking closely and will have more to say about (Southwest Airlines cancelations) tomorrow.”

According to FlightAware, 62% of Southwest flights have been canceled nationwide in the past 24 hours and 34% of all flights leaving BWI have been canceled.

“We’re supposed to be flying to Puerto Rico, and I don’t think we’re ever going to get to Puerto Rico. The line is not even moving,” said passenger Tina Lustgarten.

Passengers affected by the airline’s changes lined up at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) on Monday.

Passengers lined up outside of Southwest at BWI on December 26, 2022, after a series of delays and cancellations.

“I was up here visiting family over Christmas. A good freezing vacation, and I’m ready to go back to Florida,” said passenger Michele Reed.

DC News Now reached out to the airline for a statement, and they confirmed that a “significant portion” of their flights have been canceled. They also offered “heartfelt apologies,” saying the challenges to customers and employees alike were “just beginning.”

We’re working with Safety at the forefront to urgently address wide-scale disruption by rebalancing the airline and repositioning Crews and our fleet ultimately to best serve all who plan to travel with us.

We were fully staffed and prepared for the approaching holiday weekend when the severe weather swept across the continent, where Southwest is the largest carrier in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the U.S. This forced daily changes to our flight schedule at a volume and magnitude that still has the tools our teams use to recover the airline operating at capacity.

This safety-first work is intentional, ongoing, and necessary to return to normal reliability, one that minimizes last-minute inconveniences. We anticipate additional changes with an already reduced level of flights as we approach the coming New Year holiday travel period. And we’re working to reach to Customers whose travel plans will change with specific information and their available options.

Statement from Southwest

Many customers who had been in line for hours trying to get answers were done and told DC News Now that they were ready to throw in the towel.

“We’re giving up. We’re going to go home,” Lustgarten said.