Southwest Airlines canceled her entire family's flights and they missed her wedding day

Kimberli Romano and Kyle Hlavaty live in Chicago, along with most of her family. The couple flew to Las Vegas for their weekend wedding on Wednesday, October 6, and didn't have any issues.

Posted: Oct 14, 2021 12:28 PM

What was supposed to be a special day over the weekend instead became an emotional roller coaster for a bride whose family couldn't attend her wedding after Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights around the country.

Kimberli Romano and Kyle Hlavaty live in Chicago, along with most of her family. The couple flew to Las Vegas for their weekend wedding on Wednesday, October 6, and didn't have any issues.

A bridesmaid's flight was delayed Friday. But it wasn't until Saturday morning, the day before the wedding, that the couple became concerned Romano's parents wouldn't make it.

Hlavaty's friend was supposed to be on the same flight as Romano's parents from Chicago Midway International Airport. He called to tell the couple his flight had been canceled, and he didn't know what was going on because he was still on hold with customer service.

"So, I call my parents immediately and told them double-check everything because we just got notification that the flight was canceled," she 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."

Southwest said a number of issues caused the weekend cancellations, including bad weather and a brief problem at the Air Traffic Control center in Jacksonville, Florida. Those problems caused minimal disruptions at other airlines, and Southwest admitted to employees Monday that things cascaded out of control because it lacks adequate staffing.

CNN has reached out to Southwest Airlines for comment.

Two years of planning, one venue change
Romano and Hlavaty got engaged October 2019. The couple started planning right away for an October 2021 wedding, and it was originally supposed to be near Chicago.

With everything being so fluid due to the pandemic, the couple rethought their plans in March 2020 and opted for a smaller ceremony with 18 guests in Overton, Nevada, about 60 miles east of Las Vegas.

Romano's family looked at flying into neighboring airports in Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Diego -- anything that would get them in the general vicinity, but to no avail.

"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.

"It's unbearable for a lot of people," she said. "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."

Romano was able to get her parents on a scheduled flight out of Milwaukee for Sunday morning at 6 but learned at midnight that even that flight had been canceled, as well.

Apart from Hlavaty's mom and aunt, who had flown to Las Vegas earlier in the week, the couple didn't have any family present. Her parents watched via FaceTime as their daughter walked down the aisle.

"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."

Over 2,000 miles away from home
The couple considered postponing the wedding, but her parents encouraged them to continue.

"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."

Not having her family present on her wedding way was heartbreaking for Romano. The newlyweds plan to celebrate again when they return from their honeymoon, but 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."

She still wants an apology.

"I'm sure that I'm not the only person who's been hugely inconvenienced by what happened over the weekend," she said. "I'm looking for a sincere apology more so than anything else. Money's money. Money doesn't bring memories back."

The pair are in California right now and have plans to make their way back to Chicago by car next Tuesday.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1097128

Reported Deaths: 17438
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1437882222
Lake712531225
Allen65537867
Hamilton50147482
St. Joseph48760639
Elkhart39461538
Vanderburgh34221495
Tippecanoe30237271
Johnson27179463
Hendricks25845379
Porter25014381
Madison20656444
Clark19898275
Vigo18764308
LaPorte16857260
Delaware16425291
Howard16408311
Monroe16379217
Kosciusko13936163
Hancock12841185
Bartholomew12686188
Warrick11995189
Wayne11879265
Floyd11869225
Grant11701235
Morgan10252188
Boone9675120
Noble9069121
Henry9002165
Marshall8907146
Dearborn881799
Dubois8710139
Shelby8054128
Cass8014127
Lawrence7922182
DeKalb7591106
Huntington7448108
Jackson743893
Gibson7002118
Montgomery6910123
Harrison685296
Knox6827113
Steuben654186
Miami6477107
Whitley642260
Putnam631982
Clinton618976
Wabash6060108
Jasper601791
Jefferson5689103
Ripley549192
Adams532381
Daviess5003116
Scott480378
Wells471799
White468767
Greene461799
Clay457462
Decatur4529109
Jennings439666
Fayette435694
LaGrange419290
Posey403244
Washington384154
Randolph3818107
Fountain368362
Spencer355846
Fulton355572
Starke348772
Owen346276
Sullivan344954
Orange324470
Jay318650
Rush298332
Carroll289438
Franklin286744
Perry283253
Vermillion280458
Tipton247365
Parke246330
Pike244144
Blackford218044
Pulaski205658
Newton179052
Brown171850
Crawford167929
Benton163217
Martin150819
Switzerland145112
Warren132216
Union117816
Ohio91413
Unassigned0585

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1683472

Reported Deaths: 26483
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1766331826
Cuyahoga1641462636
Hamilton1122641528
Montgomery794721387
Summit702171199
Lucas618431017
Butler55878803
Stark525841170
Lorain41058639
Warren35404412
Mahoning35095769
Lake31445493
Clermont30711362
Delaware26682182
Trumbull26664611
Licking26200335
Medina25291351
Fairfield24173287
Greene24051369
Clark21653387
Portage20709280
Richland20587336
Wood19626246
Allen18542320
Miami17031348
Columbiana16502331
Muskingum16416206
Wayne15432304
Tuscarawas14086357
Marion13054194
Erie12423198
Ashtabula12314225
Scioto12235182
Pickaway12070151
Ross11487223
Hancock11256173
Geauga10666174
Lawrence10504171
Belmont10259231
Huron9588155
Jefferson9462225
Union939175
Sandusky9068166
Seneca8692156
Knox8618169
Washington8613156
Athens827396
Darke8270179
Ashland7840147
Auglaize7741115
Shelby7337132
Defiance7210114
Crawford7082150
Brown7052115
Fulton7016111
Logan6857108
Mercer681697
Guernsey680283
Highland6615117
Madison641389
Clinton6388106
Williams628798
Preble6171139
Putnam6089120
Jackson572396
Champaign568286
Perry558879
Coshocton5552103
Ottawa553599
Morrow506464
Fayette483170
Hardin477899
Gallia462978
Pike459076
Van Wert454691
Adams4514109
Henry424976
Hocking401493
Holmes3939137
Wyandot367973
Carroll351578
Paulding319349
Meigs302457
Monroe231860
Noble216447
Morgan210138
Harrison205152
Vinton183937
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 31°
Angola
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 32°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 34°
Decatur
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 31°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 34°
After a cold start to the workweek, temperatures are expected to warm above average for the beginning of December.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events