Dulles Passengers Still Flying Southwest - NBC4 Washington

Dulles Passengers Still Flying Southwest

Passengers we spoke with say they have no hesitation



    A scare in the air forces Southwest to cancel flights in the area as crews continue to inspect the airline's fleet of 737s for cracks. (Published Monday, April 4, 2011)

    Some of the first passengers to board Southwest flights since Friday were anxiously standing in line Monday morning at Dulles International Airport.  

    Those we talked with said they had no problem flying on Southwest  -- this after a crack formed a huge hole, causing a jet to make an emergency landing in Arizona on Friday.  Since then, similar cracks have been found in three other Southwest jets.  About 600 flights across the country were canceled over the weekend.

    "Of course there are concerns when you hear the roof peeled off, but other than that, I still have to fly," passenger Robin Dennis said just before boarding her flight. "I still have to do business and just pray to God everything goes well."

    The recent revelations caused all 79 of Southwest 737-300 jets to be grounded and inspected. Nineteen of those jets have been cleared to go back into service.  Other inspections are expected to last through the middle of the week, almost guaranteeing additional service interruptions.

    But the only complaints we heard from passengers at Dulles Monday morning were about how Southwest handled cancellations.  

    "I printed my tickets at midnight and checked our flight status and it was not affected, and then we got a call at 8 o'clock the next morning saying we were canceled," one woman said. "At midnight, they should have known."

    Most passengers had no concerns.  One man told us he thought this was the best time to fly Southwest, since all of the inspections mean they are now paying closer attention.

    Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is a major hub for Southwest, with 374 flights daily. Since Saturday, about 20 flights at BWI were canceled -- a minimal disruption according to airport officials.

    Still, most passengers seemed more concerned about getting stranded than safety issues.

    "It's probably the safest airline flying " as a result of this incident, Rod Northern said.

    Most passengers arriving at BWI said their flight was on time but some admitted to preflight jitters.