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Southwest Airlines passengers await word of cancellations at LAX

April 2, 2011 |  1:30 pm

As investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration sought to determine how a hole tore open in the fuselage of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737, anxious passengers at Los Angeles International Airport awaited word Saturday on whether they would be caught up in the cancellation of 300 flights nationwide.

Photos: Hole opens up in plane during flight

As of noon PDT, Southwest had canceled 13 of about 95 flights scheduled at LAX, including a 2:15 p.m. flight to San Francisco; a 4:40 p.m. departure to Phoenix and then Omaha; and a 5:20 p.m. flight to San Jose.

Among the 100 prospective Southwest travelers who waited nervously for news on cancellations was Rita Aguilar-Cayo, 58. “I just arrived on a national flight from Tahiti, and now I’m going home and I really, really want to get there,” Cayo said. “But I’m starting to feel pretty insecure.”

Trotting up to the ticket line, Cayo said she did not have time to check the status of her flight on the electronic boards. While standing in line Cayo, heard about the incident and the canceled flights. However, she learned that she was among the lucky Saturday. Her 12:45 p.m. flight to San Jose was scheduled to depart on time.

Standing behind Cayo was a party of 19 Christian missionaries of all ages, from Victory Christian Academy, of Valparaiso, Ind. The group had been working in Echo Park over the last year.

A spokeswoman for the group, Deanna Abner, 48, had not heard of Friday’s troubled flight until shortly after getting in line to check her bags. She shrugged her shoulders after getting details. “God is in control. We don’t’ worry about it.” She paused. “The worst that can happen is that we all go to heaven.”

Brandy King, spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines, said the inspections of 79 of its Boeing 737 jets resulted in the cancellation of 300 flights system wide. She said the company was trying to accommodate travelers who were affected by the cancellation of their flights. King said there was no timeline as to when inspectors would complete examinations of the planes, but said travelers would be updated on the situation.

Photos: Hole opens up in plane during flight

Southwest cancels flights after fuselage breach

More than a dozen Southwest Airlines flights at LAX canceled

Passenger describes 'sunroof' opening up during flight

-- Ruben Vives and Louis Sahagun