A Wisconsin family found themselves stranded in Newark and missed out on their $17,000 Royal Caribbean cruise after Southwest and United canceled their flights

  • A Wisconsin family spent months planning for a Royal Caribbean Cruise.

  • After a series of canceled flights, they ended up stranded in New Jersey.

  • Noam Littman told Insider that his family is now "hesitant" to plan a trip like this again.

A family trying to make it to Florida to spend the holiday season on a Royal Caribbean cruise instead spent Christmas in the freezing New Jersey weather without their luggage after a series of canceled flights from Southwest and United airlines.

Noam Littman, from Appleton, Wisconsin, told Insider that he and his wife Julie spent months planning a "big trip for the year" for their three sons and their two grandparents. The couple dropped around $17,000 on tickets and even arranged a surprise for their sons, waiting until they reached Florida to let them know that they would be heading out on a cruise.

"We had like this elevated sense of excitement knowing that we were going to be surprising them as well," Julie told Insider.

However, 24 hours before they were due to fly out of Milwaukee on Dec. 23 on Southwest Airlines, they were notified that their initial flight was canceled. The Littmans said they did not receive a reason as to why.

"We just found out via a text that our flight was canceled," Noam told Insider. "Nobody said anything. And we had to try and figure out what to do. So it's been a nightmare."

After Southwest rebooked and canceled their flight multiple times, the Littmans decided to play it safe and booked the only flight to Orlando, Florida, they could find out of General Mitchell International Airport — a United Airlines flight. According to a flight ticket reviewed by Insider, the cost of the round-trip tickets was around $6,500 for the whole family.

The Littmans said they arrived in Newark, New Jersey at 3 p.m. following the first leg of their flight. Around 6 p.m. they boarded their flight to Orlando. That's when staff announced on the plane that United had no pilots available to fly.

The Littmans said they were notified via text around midnight that the flight was canceled and were offered lodging from United after inquiring, but they said they had no way to get there. Additionally, they couldn't access their luggage and were without jackets and warm clothes in the winter weather.

The family told Insider they eventually found a suitable place to stay, but had to spend Christmas flying back home — still without their luggage — and missed their vacation.

A family of 7 stands in front of a Christmas tree.
Courtesy of Noah Littman

Now, the family is looking for refunds— from Royal Caribbean, from whom they purchased trip insurance, and United Airlines. The family said they were able to get a refund from Southwest.

Noam said that after being on hold with United for hours, the family was able to get only about $270 from United. United Airlines could not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

As to whether or not they would plan a trip like this again, Noam said that the family was now "hesitant" knowing how much could go wrong.

"[United] can't control the weather, but they can control how customers are treated," Noam told Insider. "And to just send you a text if you've been waiting in the airport with kids for six hours... and then leave you completely hanging. You don't know where your luggage is. You don't know where you're going to stay, knowing that you're not you're gonna get back home. Nothing. That's ridiculous. That's completely on United."

Royal Caribbean did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Across the US, hundreds of cruise ship guests have missed their departures this winter season after severe winter storms began across the country have resulted in the cancellation of thousands of flights across airlines. Many say they are struggling to secure refunds for their flights.

Another set of Wisconsin travelers missed their $4,000 Royal Caribbean honeymoon after Southwest canceled their flights.

Read the original article on Business Insider