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Southwest Airlines disaster affects fans traveling to bowl games

If you booked on America’s favorite low-cost carrier to get to your bowl game of choice this year, let’s hope you’ve got an alternate means of transit or some refundable tickets.

Derrick Vinson speaks with a Southwest Airlines associate about his son being stranded due to cancelled and delayed flights at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on December 27, 2022 in Houston, Texas. Southwest Airlines has canceled approximately 5,400 flights in less than 48 hours due to a variety of issues including this year’s historic winter storm and scheduling complications involving crew members. Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images

There’s nothing worse than being stranded during the holiday season in an airport. While winter storms and general aviation problems are always a risk during the busiest times of year, it’s even worse if you’re heading to watch your favorite college football team play in a bowl game.

If you’re heading for Christmas dinner across the country, when you get stuck you’re either at home or near the family you went to visit. If you’re heading to a postseason football game, you might not know anyone but your fellow fans in the city you’re visiting.

And with over 3,000 flights across American canceled already today, 2,600 of them on Southwest Airlines alone, there’s going to be a lot of people looking for limited hotel space, or just not attending bowl games in the first place.

So if you were looking for tickets to see a postseason college football game in the town where you already are, there are plenty of bargains to be had. The Fiesta Bowl between TCU and Michigan, which is for the College Football Playoff semifinal, is down to a get in price of $107 already. And that feels like it might fall even further before kickoff.

So are you stuck in a bowl game Travel Purgatory? Here’s some helpful tips:

  1. If you bought your plane ticket with a major credit card (American Express, Chase, etc), you’re likely entitled to reimbursement for expenses and lost luggage. Here’s where to find which kind of travel insurance you might be entitled to based on your credit card, as well as how to file a claim. Remember: Save every receipt, and sometimes you can buy clothes, phone chargers, and hotel rooms in addition to food.
  2. If your baggage is lost, and with 3,000 bags just sitting with no home at Harry Reid Airport in Las Vegas right now that is very possible, you can be reimbursed by both the airline and/or your credit card.
  3. If you have paid for your game tickets already, call your school’s ticket office and see if they are refunding or transferring seats. It’s in their best interests to work with you, and even if they get stuck with the seats, you might be able to help a youngster in the community attend the game for free.
  4. While on hold on the phone with your airline, slide in their DM’s on Twitter as well. That can sometimes be a faster way to get rebooked (though who knows today).