Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights after a winter blizzard

The winter storm that disrupted thousands of travel plans over the weekend created an epic backlog of Southwest Airlines flight cancellations, leaving thousands of families stranded, with some waiting days to get home.

Two-thirds of Southwest Airlines flights have been canceled as of Monday afternoon, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware Far more than any other airline. FlightAware found that with about 2,700 flights canceled in the Southwest, another 700 were delayed Monday.

On Monday afternoon, the boardroom at Dallas Love Field, the airline’s main hub, showed that all arrivals had been cancelled, according to reporter Kelly Lacko.

The airline canceled more than 1,600 flights on Sunday, and 1,300 flights each day last week on Thursday and Friday.

On Monday, the Federal Department of Transportation said it would investigate the crash, saying it was “concerned by Southwest Airlines’ disproportionate and unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays, as well as the failure to provide adequate support to customers experiencing cancellations or delays.”

“As more information becomes available, the department will closely examine whether cancellations are manageable and whether Southwest is in compliance with its customer service plan as well as all other relevant DOT rules,” the department said in a statement.

Traveler Michael Bowson and his family planned to fly out of Orlando International Airport on Friday to fly home to Indianapolis in time for Christmas Sunday. Instead, the four vacationed at a hotel after their flight was cancelled, Pawson told CBS affiliate WKMG, and returned to the airport on Monday — where they continued to wait.

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“We got in this morning at 4:30 for a 7:05 flight, we looked for it, and lo and behold, it just got cancelled,” he said, pointing to a wriggling line in front of the southwest service desk. “It’s a four to five hour line… before they can get us on a flight – if they can get us on a flight,” he said.

Massive storm, outdated technology

Southwest, in a statement that opened Monday with “sincere apologies,” said its geography made it “uniquely” vulnerable to the storm, with half of the airports it flies at affected by winter weather.

“We are fully staffed and ready for the approaching weekend when severe weather has swept the continent Southwest is the largest airline in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the US This has forced daily changes to our flight schedule with size and volume that still owns The tools our teams are using to get the airline back up and running at capacity.” statment He said.

“We expect additional changes with the level of flights already declining as the New Year’s holiday travel period approaches,” he noted.

The company also blames a lack of technology. “Part of what we’re struggling with is the lack of tools. We’ve talked a lot about modernizing the process, and the need to do that,” CEO Bob Jordan said in an internal message Sunday that was reported by multiple media outlets. Ports and Union of Hostesses.

Phone lines and systems jammed

Southwest directed customers away from crowded phone lines, noting that it was struggling.the system issues” amid high demand.

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Company spokesman Chris Perry said the airline’s online reservation and check-in systems were still working, but were also being disrupted by an “abnormally high” traffic volume on its site. “We’re reaccommodating as many customers as possible based on the space available,” he told CBS News.

Southwest has also blamed the technology issues, and the flight attendants union, Transport Workers Union 556, has accused the airline of contributing to the problem by underinvesting in technology for years.

“A lack of technology has led the airline to rely on manual solutions and personal phone calls, leaving flight attendants on hold with Southwest Airlines for up to 17 hours at a time to be released to go home after their flight, or while they try to secure security,” the union said in a statement. “a hotel room or know where their next flight will be.” Statement “While re-routing and rescheduling is understood to be part of the job in the airline industry, the sheer scale of failure over the past few days indicates evasion of responsibility over many years to invest in the technology that It can help solve and implement many issues that afflict flight attendants and passengers alike.”

Etihad and the airline are in negotiations for the four-year contract.

–With reporting by Zelle Elvey, Kathryn Krupnick, and Chris Van Cleef.

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