All 25 Southwest Airlines flights scheduled to leave Philadelphia International Airport on Wednesday have been canceled, according to flight tracking service FlightAware. About 11,000 Southwest Airlines flights have been canceled nationwide since Thursday. This Thursday, major winter storms and frigid temperatures across much of the United States began to disrupt air travel during the Christmas rush.
Southwest Airlines is operating about a third of its flights as it struggles to recover from the impact the weather has had on its normal travel schedule. Unlike other airlines that use a “hub and spoke” model, Southwest Airlines returns planes to several large airports after arriving at smaller destinations.
This ‘point-to-point’ model typically allows Southwest to book more flights in a 24-hour period, but severe weather that shuts down multiple airports could lead to a chain reaction that requires significant cancellations. . The company canceled 34% of flights on Friday, 39% on Saturday, 46% on Sunday, 74% on Monday and 64% on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, more than 2,500 flights (62% of Southwest Airlines’ planned routes) were canceled. Other airlines have also canceled more flights than usual in the past few days, all but preventing a full-blown crisis like the one plaguing Southwest Airlines.
Southwest is the largest airline in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the United States. Philadelphia is the fifth largest airline.
“It was devastating. It was a failure at every level for Southwest Airlines,” Captain Casey Murray of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association told ABC News. “Our processes, IT and infrastructure were never meant to support operations. Unfortunately, our customers bear the brunt.”
In Philadelphia, PHL spokesperson Heather Redfern said the best thing stranded passengers can do is stay up-to-date with the latest information provided by the airline.
“We remind all passengers to stay in touch with the airline about flight status at all times during the flight. Download the airline’s app and sign up for text or email alerts.” The company will provide updates on what to do in the event of a delay or cancellation.”
Southwest Airlines has launched a website for travelers affected by the current disruption. On this page, customers can check flight status, rebook flights, and request refunds. There are also answers to frequently asked questions about related travel reimbursement, where to find checked baggage, and troubleshooting problems finding new flights.
The Southwest Airlines malfunction has come under federal scrutiny, including a pledge from Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, to investigate the root cause of the problem rice field. She said the problem goes beyond the weather.
“Many airlines have failed to properly communicate with consumers when flights are canceled,” Cantwell said on Tuesday. “Consumers deserve strong protections, including updated consumer refund rules.”
“We are doing everything we can to return to normal operations,” Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan said in a video message to customers on Tuesday night.
Southwest Airlines is in discussions with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg about how to rectify the situation with customers and adapt operations to prevent similar problems in the future, Porter said.
“Our plan for the next few days is to shorten the schedule and redeploy personnel and aircraft,” Porter said. “And we are making progress and I am optimistic that we will be back on track by next week.”
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Transportation called the number of cancellations from the Southwest “unacceptable” and said it would work to protect consumers.
USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s reports of unacceptable cancellation rates and delays, as well as a lack of prompt customer service. The department will investigate whether the cancellation was controllable and whether Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.
— TransportationGov (@USDOT) December 27, 2022
The airline industry has come under pressure from federal regulators since travel demand recovered from the collapse in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many airlines have seen a wave of retirements and have offered acquisitions that will leave them short-staffed when more travelers return in 2021.
But while Southwest Airlines was the first company to turn a profit without federal backing in the aftermath of the pandemic’s cooling, the company’s structure and operations remain more vulnerable to disaster than its competitors. did.
Atmosphere Research Group monitor Henry Harteveldt told the New York Times, “This is the worst string of cancellations for a single airline I can recall in my 20+ year career as an industry analyst.