Grandmother drives cross-country to Memphis after Southwest cancellations

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After her trip to Memphis was put in jeopardy by the recent Southwest Airlines meltdown, a grandmother has been forced to take other measures to get back to the Bluff City.

FOX13′s reporter Jack Bilyeu spoke to Allesia Bassett-Edwards as she took a quick break from her 21-hour drive from Tucson, Arizona to Memphis in order to make it to her grandson’s fifth birthday party in time.

She spoke over Zoom from a McDonald’s in rural New Mexico.

“I always sneak up on them and then they go, ‘Ahhh! Grandma!’” she said of visiting her grandchildren. “And they come running. It makes you feel so loved.”

Bassett-Edwards said she was planning to fly Southwest Airlines to her grandson’s party, but held off on buying tickets as the winter storm passed through the Mid-South.

Once that weather cleared, though, she said there were no more tickets to be bought.

“I was like okay, let me look at other carriers and see,” she said. “And the tickets were almost $2,000, which was just too much for a couple of days, so I just got in a panic.”

She considered not making the trip at all, but after hearing the birthday boy’s thoughts on the issue, decided she had to make it work.

“He just felt like I had to be there, and so I have to be there. I can’t disappoint him,” Bassett-Edwards said. “I went into mama bear mode and decided I’ll just have to drive.”

She said she and her husband have been braving icy roads in the Southwestern US, but plan to power through.

Bassett-Edwards said she is a frequent Southwest flier and the issues with the carrier will not keep her from traveling on the airline in the future.

“Everyone deserves a second chance to make it right,” she said. “It’s not enough to make me stop traveling on Southwest. I actually have a trip scheduled for the end of next week, so hopefully, we can get on.”

Bassett-Edwards’ goal was to make it to Memphis by noon Friday, which meant she and her husband needed to drive in shifts.

She believes the effort is worth it to make her grandkids happy.

For other travelers, the end of the cancellations may be in sight as only about 40 Southwest flights were listed as canceled for Friday.