"There's honestly nothing that they (Southwest Airlines) can do that's going to make up for what's already been lost, what's been taken from me, essentially."
Kimberli Romano and Kyle Hlavaty's dream wedding on October 6 turned into an emotional roller coaster after the bride's entire family missed the affair after Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights around the country. According to CNN, when the couple — who live in Chicago, along with most of Romano's family — flew to Las Vegas for their weekend wedding a few days prior to their big day, they hadn't faced any issues. Following a call from Hlavaty's friend on Saturday morning, however, they started to get worried that Romano's parents wouldn't make it.
Southwest Airlines cancelled roughly 27% of its scheduled flights over the weekend. https://t.co/c1NPcpRjE9— Complex (@Complex) October 12, 2021
The friend, who was supposed to be on the same flight as Romano's parents from Chicago Midway International Airport, informed the soon-to-be-weds that his flight had been canceled and that he didn't know what was going on. "So, I call my parents immediately and told them to double-check everything because we just got notification that the flight was canceled," Romano said. "And, of course, it turns out that it was, and I was freaking out. I was so emotional. That was probably one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do was to get married without my parents."
BREAKING: Southwest has now cancelled 1,800 flights https://t.co/mOrUFJPYvr— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) October 10, 2021
"Everyone was scrambling. Kyle and I were scrambling to try to find flights. We obviously couldn't get anyone on the phone. We actually went to the Las Vegas airport to try to talk to an agent to see what we could do," she added. "It's unbearable for a lot of people. And it's very, very disappointing. I've defended Southwest for so long and been a loyal customer of theirs for so long, and the way we were treated at the airport -- they were so rude and disrespectful and had absolutely no remorse for anything. It's very upsetting." Although Romano was able to get her parents on a scheduled flight out of Milwaukee for Sunday morning at 6, the family learned at midnight that even that flight had been canceled.
The problems at Southwest Airlines run deeper than the operational meltdown that caused more than 2,000 flight cancellations in recent days. And they'll continue well after the airline is back on schedule. https://t.co/hKTfNJf4Gx— CNN (@CNN) October 11, 2021
Her parents ultimately watched via FaceTime as their daughter walked down the aisle. Hlavaty's mom and aunt, who had flown to Las Vegas earlier in the week, were the only family present for the ceremony. "Service was spotty because we were up in the mountains and everything, but my mom said that she was able to see most of it," Romano said. "She couldn't hear anything but she could see most of it." Southwest blamed the weekend cancellations on a number of issues, including bad weather and a brief problem at the Air Traffic Control center in Jacksonville, Florida. However, these problems caused minimal disruptions at other airlines, and Southwest later admitted to employees that things got out of control because it lacks adequate staffing.
As soon as they got engaged in October 2019, Romano and Hlavaty started planning for an October 2021 wedding — originally near Chicago. However, with the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, the couple rethought their plans and opted for a smaller ceremony with 18 guests in Overton, Nevada. Ultimately, when they realized their family wouldn't be able to make it to their long-awaited wedding, Romano and Hlavaty considered postponing the wedding yet again. However, the bride's parents encouraged them to go ahead without them. "We were back and forth on it about what to do," she said. "But then, this was what we were working so hard for. This is what we had saved for so long for."
Romano admitted that not having her family present on her wedding day was heartbreaking. Although the newlyweds plan to celebrate again once they return from their honeymoon, she said it won't be the same. "There's honestly nothing that they (Southwest Airlines) can do that's going to make up for what's already been lost, what's been taken from me, essentially," she said. "You know, those are memories that can't be replaced by just having another. I'm sure that I'm not the only person who's been hugely inconvenienced by what happened over the weekend. I'm looking for a sincere apology more so than anything else. Money's money. Money doesn't bring memories back."