A winter storm that disrupted thousands of travel plans over the weekend has created an epic pile of Southwest Airlines flight cancellations, leaving thousands of families stranded, waiting days for their flights home.
As of Monday afternoon, two-thirds of Southwest Airlines’ flights had been canceled, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware. That’s a lot more than any other airline. According to FlightAware, about 2,700 Southwest flights were canceled on Monday and another 700 were delayed.
A bulletin board at the airline’s main hub, Dallas Love Field, showed on Monday afternoon that all arrivals had been canceled, according to reporter Kelly Lako.
Airlines canceled more than 1,600 flights on Sunday and 1,300 daily flights last Thursday and Friday.
On Monday, the Federal Department of Transport said it was “concerned by Southwest Airlines’ disproportionate and unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays and its failure to adequately support customers experiencing cancellations or delays.” It said it would investigate the meltdown.
“As more information becomes available, the agency will closely investigate whether the cancellation was controllable and whether Southwest is complying with its Customer Service Plan and all other relevant DOT regulations. ‘, the agency said in a statement.
Traveler Michael Bozon and his family flew out of Orlando International Airport on Friday and were due to fly home to Indianapolis on Sunday in time for Christmas. Instead, the four vacationed at a hotel after their flights were canceled and returned to the airport on Monday, Bauson told CBS affiliate WKMG.
“I arrived here at 4:30 this morning for a flight leaving at 7:05 and when I looked it up, it had just been canceled.” “Before you put us on the plane – if they could put us on the plane,” he said.
Pervasive storms, obsolete technology
Southwest Airlines said in a statement Monday that it began with a “sincere apology” that its geographic features were “uniquely” vulnerable to storms and that half of the airports it flies to were affected by winter weather. Stated.
“Southwest Airlines, the largest airline in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the United States, was well staffed for the looming holiday weekend when severe weather hit the entire continent. “We are ready, and we still have the tools our team will use to recover airlines operating at capacity,” the statement said.
“Additional changes are expected on already reduced levels of flights as next year’s holiday season approaches,” it said.
The company also blames the lack of technology. “Part of what we struggle with is the lack of tools. We’ve had a lot of conversations about the need,” he said. Union of outlets and flight attendants.
clogged phone lines, systems
Southwest said it was experiencing “system issues” amid increased demand and directed customers to stay away from congested phone lines.
Spokesperson Chris Perry said the airline’s online booking and check-in system was still operational, but was congested with “abnormally high” traffic on the site. We are reaccommodating as many customers as possible based on this,” he told CBS News.
Just as Southwest blamed technology problems, the flight attendants’ union Transit Workers Union 556 blamed the airline for years for underinvestment in technology contributing to the problem. condemned.
“The lack of technology has forced airlines 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 before being released and sent home after the trip. , we are trying to ensure safety. A hotel room or we know where our next trip will be,” the union said in a statement. “Routing and rescheduling are understood to be part of the aviation industry’s job, but the massive failures of the past few days reflect years of investment and implementation of technologies that could help solve the problem. It shows a evasion of responsibility for many of the issues that plague flight attendants and passengers alike.”
The union and the airline have been in contract negotiations for four years.
— with reports by Zel Elvi, Kathryn Krupnik and Kris Van Cleave.