Fort Lauderdale Flights Cancelled Due To Shooting

Filed Under: Misc.

Sad news out of Fort Lauderdale, where a full ground stop has been ordered in the aftermath of a shooting in the baggage claim area.

Five people were killed, and an additional eight injured, according to officials. The sole suspect is in custody. The Washington Post reports:

The man in custody was identified by officials as Esteban Santiago. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) publicly identified the shooter as Santiago after being told the name by the head of the Transportation Security Administration, according to Ryan Brown, a spokesman for the senator. A federal law enforcement official also confirmed the name to The Washington Post.

Santiago, 26, was carrying an Army ID, according to three federal law enforcement officials.

He was a passenger on a flight traveling with a checked gun in his baggage, according to federal law enforcement officials, who asked to speak on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation. The officials said that Santiago had picked up his bag and took the gun into the bathroom to load it before returning to the baggage claim area to begin firing at people.

For those wanting further details as events unfold, the BBC has a useful Breaking News feed.

In the meantime, airlines have canceled their scheduled flights for the remainder of today, and are issuing waivers for travel today, and in some cases tomorrow. You can see the individual policies on the airline sites:

If you are traveling to or through Fort Lauderdale today or tomorrow, you’ll want to get in touch with your airline ASAP.

Tips for rebooking

Regardless of the reason for flight cancelations, phone queues can get ugly fast. Given that many people need to rebook at the same time, you might be able to get new plans confirmed more quickly by using an alternate method.

Try the club lounge

If you’re already at the airport, start with the lounge agents. They tend to have fewer passengers to deal with than the gate agents, and thus may have more time (and more patience), when it comes to rebooking your flight.

Reach out on social media

I’ve had good luck changing flights by sending direct messages to American via Twitter. Several other airlines have a Twitter presence as well, and while they might not be able to fix your reservation, it’s worth trying:

Avoid the domestic call centers

If you’re willing to spend a few dollars on Skype or Google Voice credit, calling the international call center for an airline can often save you an hour or more of hold time.

Almost all of these call centers have an English-speaking option, but you can also call Australia, where I understand the weather is nice today, or even just Canadian numbers can get you through faster.

¿Hablas Español?

If you have a rudimentary understanding of Spanish (like, just enough to get through the computer system), you can try the Spanish-speaking numbers. Again, fewer people calling means shorter hold times, and the agents typically speak English as well.

  • American Airlines Spanish line: 1-800-633-3711
  • Southwest Spanish line: 1-800-VAMONOS
  • United Airlines Spanish line: 1-800-426-5561

Be your own advocate

This is maybe more a life philosophy than one specific to travel disruptions, but it holds true — no one cares about you (or your travel) as much as you do.

So be nice, but ask questions, present alternatives, be prepared to book your own hotel rather than waiting in line with a hundred other people for a voucher, and so forth.

If you stand around and wait, you will almost certainly have a worse time than those who are actively finding solutions to the situation.

Bottom line


If you’re traveling to or through Fort Lauderdale today, or even tomorrow, I’d recommend contacting your airline immediately to make alternative arrangements. Be nice, but ask questions, present alternatives, be prepared to book your own hotel rather than waiting in line with a hundred other people for a voucher, and so forth. If you stand around and wait, you will almost certainly have a worse time than those who are actively finding solutions to the situation.

The story itself is still developing, and I’d suggest following @FLLFlyer and @browardsheriff for further updates.

My thoughts are with everyone involved, and their families.

  1. Funny how in the past people used to jump to accusations of muslims and arabs, but this time they started with Trump supporters. I’m not totally against this shift in prejudice really.

    Still a sad event that should never happen in the first place.

  2. This post seems a bit overly dramatic. FLL is not a big airport. And MIA and PBI are close. It’s not as though people will be trapped for days.
    This post is more like a Hillary supporter trying to make a case for gun control, by painting a picture that the sky is falling.

  3. Really sad of what happen.

    Folks… let not make this post into a gun thread. This thread is about helpful hints of what to do and not to do.

  4. @Brian’s comment so perfectly exemplifies what we should all expect from the new administration. Brian is so blase about a mass shooting at a US airport. It’s no big deal; it’s just the reasonable and understandable cost of him having the right to posess whatever firearm his little heart desires.

    This is the mentality of Trump and his angry mob of supporters. This is the new America. And this is the reason why every sane, intelligent citizen needs to stand up against Trump.

    @Tiffany –

    Good evening! I’m so looking forward to reading about your trip to Jordan.

  5. FYI, Delta’s Twitter should be listed as @Delta (the @DeltaAssist account refers customers to their primary Twitter account as of 4/4/16).

  6. @ Brian — FLL is one of the world’s 50 busiest airports in terms of passenger traffic, with ~400 flights scheduled to arrive or depart this afternoon. Even if you assume light loads, that’s still 40,000+ displaced or delayed passengers. Can the surrounding airports help? Sure, but they don’t have slots for all those planes, there are still logistics involved that people will need to work through with their airline, etc. It’s not an easy situation.

  7. Such a sad day and a sad entry into 2017. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

    We’re all here because we either love to travel or love the idea of traveling and taking really incredible trips (like Tiffany’s recent trip to Jordan, which is on my list of places to go). Not sure about everyone else, but personally, I think it would be great if we could keep the political comments to a minimum. Will that happen? Probably not.

    Air Canada and Air France/KLM FlyingBlue should both have French operators if you have a knowledge of French (I know FlyingBlue does) if that can help you get through the line quicker, in addition to Spanish.

  8. Sad news… I’ve never been there, but of course it is an iconic US destination. God Bless the families and the disaster personnel. I’ve been on dealing with an award booking and thinking about how many people it takes to deal with this kind of thing.

  9. Aziz, you’re an ass.

    To Cleo, how does it feel to be a smug, self-aggrandizing, souless, opportunist who couldnt wait to capitalize on the death and mayhem at FLL in order to make some moronic point about Trump voters and guns. You are a ghoul.

  10. My sympathies with the dead and injured.

    Why this senseless shooter is not termed a Terrorist by the media ? If Santiago had a name even remotely sounding like a Muslim he would have been called a Terrorist straight away. The biased media is calling Santiago only as a shooter! Though he has killed innocents like those disgusting ISIS supporters or mentally deranged so called muslims still Santiago is privileged enough to be not called a Terrorist. Very convenient

  11. Tiffany, out of curiosity, would airlines typically be expected to provide hotel rooms in an “act of god” type scenario such as this? Obviously they have no control over the situation but I’m not sure if there are any rules that govern this.

  12. It’s just horrendous what has happened. When will your gun laws change. Enough is enough with this ridiculous right to bear arms. I’m sorry but Americans are bloody deluded. Australia changed all of this after the Port Arthur Massacre.

  13. @Elijah – “When will your gun laws change.”

    On the federal level, never. At least not significantly.

    “Enough is enough with this ridiculous right to bear arms.”

    You want to take the 2nd Amendment out of the Constitution? Good luck with that.

  14. @Elijah totally agree. Visited Port Arthur last year, very sobering. Similarly in the UK we had the Dunblane school massacre and immediately changed our gun laws. I just cannot fathom why there’s no change in the USA despite these terrible incidents still happening.

  15. @Elijah. I visit Australia several times a year, and they always bring up Port Arthur as the turning point in that country’s gun control legislation. This was under a conservative government too. They’re baffled why nothing seems to change in this country. Sadly, if the massacre of school children, people going to church or a club full of people just enjoying life do not change anything, nothing will. Our hearts have become callous.

  16. So a little bit of an update. No commercial flights have yet taken off. Also Delta will be reaccomodating passengers to Miami and West Palm Beach today as the terminal where they are located in is the terminal where the shooting occured. Spirit has started to fly back at 5 AM this morning. Jet Blue services are suspended till 10 AM. Southwest will probably be down as well for a majority of the day.

  17. Guns are big business. Americana (republicans) are not callous, they are practical psychopaths. A few lives won’t stop them from making money. Only something that affects them personally will change their views, like gun violence claiming their own family. Then they will stop coming up with cute slogans (like NRA does) to explain away gun violence and actually think about it. Dick Cheney became pro gay marriage only after his daughter came out as gay. They are hypocrites. The whole lot of them.

    That said I am NOT pro gun control. Homicides due to gun violence has been dropping over the last decades. So there is no data support gun violence is out of hand or even increasing. Liberals in this regard are just a bunch of drama queens.

  18. The issue is mental illness not guns. what neither party wants to deal with is the mentally ill because they for the most part are not insured.

  19. @Gaurav: I don’t know..a lot of the flights were diverted after the time of the shooting. They were relocating about 10-20,000 passengers over to a Terminal over at Port Everglades Cruise Terminal that were not in the area.

    I know a lot of the airlines that did have flights did divert to Miami and West Palm and also with Tampa and Orlando. In an act of god situation, they don’t have to provide a hotel room if there are alternate means (i.e Busing passengers down). I would think due to the inconvience there might be a travel voucher.

    FLL airlines that are somewhat back to normal:
    All airlines in Terminal 4 (International+Spirit)
    American (flights start at 11 AM)
    Southwest (flights start in the PM)
    JetBlue (resumed at 10 AM)

    All Delta flights at the moment are still cancelled as is Air Canada flights as their terminal is currently under investigation due to the location of the shooting.

  20. I didn’t vote for Trump, but I accept the outcome. I’m not one who thinks every sane cititizen needs to stand up against Trump. All of you people who supported Hillary and just “can’t believe” Trump won, or say “he’s not my president”, get a life. It’s over. YOU lost. Hillary was a terrible candidate. Any many of you are for bigger government and more control, and like to use tragedies like this to push your agenda. If you can’t handle Trump, there are plenty of flights out of this country. Feel free to book yourself a one way flight today. Don’t waste too much energy “standing up” against Trump. Such idiots.

  21. @Gaurav
    For what it’s worth, I was in flight on a Delta flight from FCO on 9/11. The flight was diverted to Amsterdam where we waited for seven days before we resumed back to the USA. We got no compensation from Delta or any agency.

  22. “present alternatives, be prepared to book your own hotel rather than waiting in line with a hundred other people for a voucher, and so forth.”

    @Tiffany: Thanks for the post. This would be a good time for a friendly reminder post about which credit cards offer travel delay protection and other types of incident coverage.

  23. I´m sorry for the silly question but how the shooter was able to check a bag with a gun inside and no one noticed? And he got the bag on the baggage claim area. And according to he made a non-stop flight.

  24. I heard (not that I completely trust the media versions) that all of the passengers in the planes that
    were arriving as this happened, were kept ON THE PLANE for about EIGHT HOURS. I understand
    the challenges of landing amidst chaos, but – wow – how awful to sit there on the tarmac and not be
    able to deplane – couldn’t they be rolled to another building or something where there were more
    bathrooms and more food?

  25. This is of course very sad once again.
    At the same time, US must be about the only country in the world where people can travel with weapons. I even see Tiffany stating it is legal. Seems to me like a very backward stand which got outdated in the the more civilized parts of the world about 200 years ago latest.
    A few days back some people in this blog were so upset about the perceived lack of security in Cairo. Really guys, the US has over the last 15 years become a fascist, super violent country and you don’t even see it. And if the mafia or the thugs don’t kill you then the cops will as they seem equally trigger happy.
    Give me Canada, South America, or anywhere in Europe, Asia, or even most of Africa, it is so much more civilized.

  26. So funny to see people like Ron and Otavio so surprised that people have guns. Please, feel free to leave. If yiu can’t handle freedom, go live in a more “civilized” country. Get out. Please. Go. And shut up.

  27. Wow…looks like “the troops” were sleeping on the job again! Remind me why everyone idolizes these guys when they can’t even keep a simple baggage claim safe?

  28. People in the US have the right to own guns. Personally I disagree with the interpretation of the second amendment but it is what it is. Given that fact people are allowed to check unloaded firearms and carry them when they travel (just not in the cabin). As Tiffany mentioned, baggage claim is not part of the secure area so people have more latitude. It’s logistically impossible to blanked the whole country with enough law enforcement to prevent any possible incident. As long as guns are freely available these unfortunate events will keep on happening.

    And @Brian, the US offers many freedoms. One of those is that of speech and expression. People are allowed to voice their disagreements even if you don’t like them. That doesn’t mean that they have to leave the country.

  29. @Brian

    I certainly do not live in the USA, only have to visit it once in a while for business.
    Anyway thanks for not picking me out as a non-native speaker.

  30. Brian is the only sensible poster here. Thank you, Brian. The rest of you leftist hags and so blinded to the reality of the world about you. Guns! OMG! Turns out the shooter was inspired by Islam. A gun just happened to be his weapon of choice. Too bad someone wasn’t packing in the airport to send this POS to his 69 virgins.

  31. We Americans love guns more than human life.
    The fervor over a Constitutional amendment beats out the life of a child every time.

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