Amtrak routes fill up as cancellations continue during holiday travel

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The impact of this week’s travel collapse extends far beyond the airport. Passengers are taking it upon themselves to get where they need to go by any means possible.

“Driving didn’t work out; flying didn’t work out,” an Amtrak passenger told WPTV before boarding her 19-hour train journey on Wednesday. “It’s been a long train journey.

“We were still looking for a flight until this morning,” another passenger said.

Passengers wait to retrieve their luggage at a Southwest Airlines baggage counter after a flight was canceled at Los Angeles International Airport, Monday, Dec. 26, 2022.

(AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)

Passengers wait to retrieve their luggage at a Southwest Airlines baggage counter after a flight was canceled at Los Angeles International Airport, Monday, Dec. 26, 2022.

On Wednesday afternoon, the next available seat on Amtrak trains bound for the New York area is Jan. 3.

As passengers and airlines grapple with flight cancellations across the country, travelers in South Florida are commuting between airports hoping they can still find a seat on the plane.

“I just spent $208 on an Uber so I could get to the airport and talk to the guy behind the counter and try to get a ticket,” one Southwest passenger told WPTV.

Rick Versace Owner of A1A Airport and Limousine Service

Danielle Schitt/WPTV

Rick Versace, owner of A1A Airport and Limousine Service, explained how the route has increased significantly.

Rick Versace owns A1A airport and limousine service. They typically run 200 routes a day, but in the past week, they’ve more than doubled, he said.

“In 35 years, this is the most cancellations I’ve had,” he said. “We had a lot of people who might have flown out of Fort Lauderdale, but they couldn’t get a flight back to Fort Lauderdale. So, they ended up in West Palm Beach. We’d pick them up in West Palm Beach and drive them there. Fort Lauderdale because that’s where their cars are parked. Get them home at all costs.”

Some airlines will reimburse additional costs incurred as a result of cancellations, including meals, hotels and other transportation costs.