Photos: Southwest Airlines meltdown worsens; California airports hit hard with mass cancellations

A woman stands among dozens of bags while looking for her luggage.
Amanda Gevorgyan tries to find her luggage inside the Southwest terminal at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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As chaos at Southwest Airlines brought misery to thousands of frustrated travelers and growing scrutiny from U.S. regulators and lawmakers, many in the aviation industry said the massive cancellation of flights by the nation’s largest domestic carrier was far from surprising.

Industry experts and union leaders for Southwest employees cited the company’s outdated technology and vulnerable operations, both of which are particularly susceptible to any disruptions, much less multiple coast-to-coast weather events.

“This was the perfect storm,” William McGee, a senior fellow focused on aviation for the American Economic Liberties Project. “Other [airlines] dealt with this and came back from this; Southwest was sort of brought to its knees. It deserves to be blamed for not being more resilient.”

Theresa Matthews, 61, is happy to locate her backpack carrying her laptop that has her doctorate work papers.
Theresa Matthews, 61, is happy to find her backpack, which contains her laptop and doctoral work materials. She drove 33 hours straight from Nashville to Los Angeles after her Southwest flight was canceled.


(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)
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Ryker Salazar, 5, arriving from Dallas, searches for luggage among the sea of bags accumulated at baggage claim at LAX
Ryker Salazar, 5, arriving from Dallas, searches for luggage among the sea of bags at baggage claim at LAX Southwest Terminal 1 on Wednesday.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

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Rosanna Domingo, 68, arrives at LAX on Weednesday after facing Southwest Airlines flight cancellations
Rosanna Domingo, 68, arrives at LAX on Wednesday, after facing Southwest Airlines flight cancellations trying to reach Long Beach airport from New Mexico.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)
A man and a woman sit on the curb at Los Angeles International Airport with their dog and luggage.
Luis Hernandez, left, and Ruth Hernandez wait at LAX with their dog, Sissi, for a ride home to Torrance after their Southwest Airlines flight to Omaha was canceled on Tuesday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
A girl helps her mother with a bag at an airport.
Zoe Schelter, 12, helps her mother, Kate Schelter, with a bag inside the Southwest terminal at LAX on Tuesday. The family’s flight from Oakland was canceled after they had checked in their luggage, but they were able to reclaim their bags after driving down to L.A. themselves.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
A woman waits in line with her luggage at an airport.
Kate Schelter waits for ticket refunds at LAX on Tuesday after Southwest canceled her family’s flight from Oakland the day before.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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Stephanie Commerford and her dog, Pickle, wait in line at the Southwest Airlines terminal at John Wayne Airport
Stephanie Commerford and her dog, Pickle, wait in line at the Southwest Airlines terminal at John Wayne Airport in Orange County on Tuesday.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Two girls wait with their bags at an airport.
Zoe Schelter, 12, and Milo Schelter, 9, wait with their bags at LAX on Tuesday as their mother tries to get refunds for their canceled Southwest Airlines flight.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Two stranded passengers at LAX. One is a masked man and the other is an unmasked woman.
Stranded passengers at LAX consider flights on other airlines Tuesday after Southwest canceled theirs.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Kenneth Zhou waits for a ride at John Wayne Airport.
Kenneth Zhou waits for a ride at John Wayne Airport on Tuesday — after a three-day journey from Phoenix because of delays, layovers and cancellations by Southwest Airlines.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
A woman seeks out her luggage among dozens of bags at LAX.
MacKenzie Porter tries to find her luggage inside the Southwest terminal at LAX on Tuesday after her flight was canceled.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
A Southwest Airlines employee, right, helps a woman locate her luggage at an airport.
A Southwest Airlines employee, right, helps Cameron Caldwell locate her luggage at LAX on Tuesday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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