Why Is Southwest Cancelling Flights?

Southwest Airlines has had the most trouble navigating the Christmas holiday rush due to the record winter storm that has complicated holiday travel and brought dangerous weather to a significant portion of the United States.

By 8:25 p.m. ET on Monday, Southwest had canceled more than 2,870 flights, accounting for at least 70% of their daily schedule. The delays worsen the confusion that has left travelers trapped at airports around the nation, many of whom have no idea how long it will be before they can return home or find their luggage.

Southwest had more than ten times as many canceled flights as Delta, which had 265 canceled flights, the second-most cancellations of any U.S. airline. In the previous week, large-scale cancellations were also requested by other airlines.

Southwest Said Its Crew Scheduling Procedure Contributes To The Problem

Southwest’s Chris Perry, a spokeswoman for the company, told NPR that the residual impacts of the winter storm are to blame for the airline’s delays and that the company wants to “stabilize and improve its business” with better weather.

Southwest Cancelling Flights
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Other challenges with “connecting flight crews to their schedules,” Perry added, have made it more difficult for the airline to handle the holiday surge. Employees have found it challenging to use crew scheduling systems and request reassignments due to this problem.

Coordinating staffing and scheduling, especially following weather delays, is a challenging undertaking for an airline with a network as extensive as Southwest’s, according to Kyle Potter, executive editor of Thrifty Traveler.

However, with many places experiencing clear skies on Monday, it would seem that the airline had few understandable reasons to cancel so many flights. It is a “full-blown meltdown,” according to Potter.

As terrible as it gets for an airline, according to Potter. “Over the past year or so, we’ve seen this time and time again, when airlines just struggle, especially after a storm, but the skies are generally clear across the nation.”

Before the Christmas holiday, everything started to fall apart for Southwest. Potter asserted that such widespread cancellations on Monday “is a clear, unambiguous indicator something has gone dreadfully wrong.”

Vacationers’ Plans Are Disrupted

Passengers are documenting the crowded baggage claim areas and long waits at reservation counters in pictures and videos from Houston, Texas, and Tampa, Florida, to Cleveland, Ohio, and Denver, Colorado. According to Colorado Public Radio, hold times on the customer service phone line at Southwest frequently exceeded two hours and occasionally even reached four hours.

Southwest Cancelling Flights
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Joshua Caudle, a Southwest passenger who said he wasn’t sure when they would be able to leave Denver, said on Denver7 News, “I’m okay with these travel situations and fly on by me when it’s just me, but when my one-year-old has to suffer through it because of ineptitude and mismanagement, that becomes personal.” “I’m never doing this with that firm again,” she declared.

After numerous delays and cancellations to planes leaving the Kansas City International Airport, a Southwest passenger who claims she was trying to go from Missouri to Denver claimed she missed celebrating Christmas with her family. She tweeted that her stuff was delivered to Denver even though she was grounded.

Airlines Are Experiencing Increased Demand

After suffering losses of tens of billions of dollars during the worst months of the pandemic, airlines have been battling to recover. Airlines have struggled with staffing issues as they attempt to handle the resurgence of air travel among Americans. And Southwest is not the only airline that has struggled to keep up with demand.

This summer, thousands of Delta pilots protested at busy airports, demanding more compensation and raising issues regarding staffing as passengers experienced flight cancellations amid the Fourth of July holiday rush. After contract negotiations were put on hold last month, Delta pilots decided to authorize a strike.

As traffic plummeted off a cliff at the beginning of the epidemic, “every airline in the country, Southwest included, got incredibly small. They have struggled as travel has rebounded to build up to 100% and they’re still not there,” Potter said.

Final Words

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