Southwest Airlines glitch nearly forces Phoenix man's deceased father to miss funeral

Posted at 3:18 PM, Jul 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-23 13:47:23-04

Computer problems continued to plague Southwest Airlines for a third straight day on Friday. However, it's not just passengers who have been impacted by the issues.

A Phoenix man said one of those delayed planes was carrying precious cargo: his father's body. 

70-year-old Valley resident Jerry Fewell passed recently and wanted to be buried with his parents in Amarillo, Texas. But, his body was being transported in a casket from Phoenix to Las Vegas, when the delayed flight almost made him miss his own funeral. 

"It was extremely upsetting," said Shawn Fewell, Jerry's son. "The entire family was upset"

Fewell spoke with ABC15 over the phone from Texas on Friday, describing how his father's body was trapped in Las Vegas for hours, forcing him to miss his own memorial viewing.

"It should have been held Thursday at 6:30 p.m. We were all there in the lobby kind of just, 'What are we going to do now,'" Fewell explained. 

His father's casket eventually made it to Texas, but it was hours later. 

"We held the impromptu viewing, actually, this morning," Fewell said. "Then, we all drove out to the burial location and the burial went off perfectly."

Jerry Fewell served in the Air Force for five years, so Friday's burial featured the traditional military honors.

His son even found a way to use this frustration to remember his father one last time.

"They [family members] have this running joke," Fewell explained. "That my Dad loved being late for everything... including his own funeral."

Southwest Airlines did provide a statement late Friday, apologizing to Fewell's family and saying the company was covering the cost of the shipment.

"We want to offer our most heartfelt apologies to the family," the airline said. "We deeply regret that the family had this experience. We have refunded the costs associated with the shipment and are reaching out to funeral home representatives."

The delays began Wednesday after the airline's systems suffered a power outage.