CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Consumers have been questioning the reliability of air travel since the post-Christmas travel fiasco with Southwest airlines. The chaos canceled flights and caused delays across the country for several days.
Just 11 days after the new year started, another historic event hit the aviation industry. The Federal Aviation Administration grounded all flights in the U.S. on Wednesday morning until 9 a.m. Eastern Time. More than 2,500 flights within, into and out of the U.S., were delayed as of around 8 a.m.
The Corpus Christi International Airport said some of their customers experienced delays as well.
"During that outage, we had hundreds of passengers that were expecting to leave this morning that didn't get out on time." Tyler Miller, the Deputy Airport Director for CCIA said. "So, we go out of our way, maybe more than other airports do. We brought in dozens of donuts, free coffee, fruit — trying to make sure everybody's as comfortable as they can (be)."
San Diego, Calif. resident Valerie Truderung found herself caught up in a mess of flight delays for a second time in the last three weeks. She visited Corpus Christi for a funeral.
On Wednesday, she went to the airport to catch a flight back to her hometown.
"Our phone blew up with all the notices that something had happened with the FAA and all flights were delayed and maybe canceled. Ours is still delayed here, but only by 30 minutes. So, we're hoping we don't miss our other one in Houston," she said.
The California resident was also one of thousands of passengers affected by Southwest's meltdown. She said she was stranded in Denver, Colorado. Truderung was formerly a frequent Southwest flyer, but she said after the issues she experienced, she's not a customer of the airliner anymore.
Following the impacts of the FAA issue, she said her confidence in the airline industry is fading.
"You can't go from all these years of all these millions of people flying and then all of a sudden, oh something happened, we don't know where your baggage is, sorry. Oh, flight canceled, sorry. Oh, delayed, sorry. Something's going on there, so any time we can drive. We're going to drive."
Truderung isn't the only traveler who feels that way. Linda Haycook from Tennessee said she wishes she can just drive to her destinations instead.
"We have family members from all over the country and it just puts a stop on us wanting to fly there because of the problems they're having," she added.
Miller said the recent issues are beyond the CCIA's control. However, he said their goal is to minimize impacts to customers when issues arise.
"We have plans in place for anything and everything that could happen. Hopefully it doesn't. And we've already been able to respond really well to the curve balls that have been thrown to us. So, we're confident," the deputy airport director said.