Southwest Airlines scrubs thousands more flights as it struggles to rebound

Southwest Airlines canceled thousands more flights early Thursday as the beleaguered provider struggled to get well from a large winter storm that has angered passengers, raised questions on its preparedness and drawn scrutiny in Washington, D.C.

As of 9:47 a.m. Eastern time Southwest had scrubbed more than 2,360 flights, or 58% of the airline’s each day scheduled journeys, in accordance to Flight Aware. Overall, information from the monitoring service reveals the airline has scrapped more than 15,000 flights over the previous week, main to chaos at Southwest services across the U.S. and forcing CEO Robert Jordan to apologize.

Exhausted Southwest vacationers tried discovering seats on different airways or renting automobiles to get to their vacation spot, however many remained stranded. People described ready hours on the telephone in search of assist. Others discovered spots to sleep on the ground. Luggage piled up in enormous heaps.

And their troubles will not be over — Jordan on Wednesday stated it may very well be subsequent week earlier than the airline’s flight schedule returns to regular.

Southwest flight passengers take a look at different airline choices


Adontis Barber, a 34-year-old jazz pianist from Kansas City, Missouri, had camped out within the metropolis’s airport since his Southwest flight was canceled Saturday, hoping to attain a New Year’s gig in Washington, D.C.

He left his airport vigil Wednesday. “I give up,” he stated. “I’m starting to feel homeless.”

“We’ve let our customers and employees down”

Southwest’s issues started over the weekend after snow, icy temperatures and howling winds slammed the Southeast and different U.S. areas. By Monday, the airline had already referred to as off most of its flights.

Another Southwest govt issued a video apology Wednesday, highlighting new options on the company’s web site the place affected vacationers can go to rebook flights, request refunds and submit data on lacking baggage.

Ryan Green, Southwest’s chief business officer, stated in a video posted to Twitter on Thursday that “we’ve let our customers and employees down, and we pledge to do everything we can to make it right.”

Along with blaming the climate, Southwest executives have acknowledged that many pilots and flight attendants had been out of position to work their flights. Leaders of unions representing Southwest pilots and flight attendants additionally pointed to antiquated crew-scheduling software.

Winter Weather Travel Chicago
A Southwest Airlines worker helps a traveler seek for baggage amongst lots of of different checked baggage at Chicago’s Midway International Airport after the provider continued canceling thousands of flights throughout the nation on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022.

Erin Hooley / AP

Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, stated the airline failed to repair issues that precipitated an analogous meltdown in October 2021. He stated managers resorted this week to asking pilots at some airports to report to a central location, the place they wrote down the names of those that had been current and forwarded the lists to headquarters.

Snowball impact

In an interview with CBS News Streaming, U.S. Captain Michael Santoro, vice chairman of the labor group, described Southwest’s scheduling software as “outdated” and stated it was unable to deal with the flood of passenger flight cancellations attributable to the winter storm. The system additionally failed to course of the reassignments of Southwest crew as the company tried to reschedule flights, he added.

“You get this snowball effect where it can’t keep track of where pilots are, flight attendants are and airplanes are,” Santoro stated.

Southwest Airlines pilots union official describes how issues snowballed


Southwest’s woes are seemingly to transcend repairing its relationship with passengers. The Senate Commerce Committee has promised an investigation, whereas two Senate Democrats referred to as on Southwest to present “significant” compensation for stranded vacationers.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg additionally stated his company would look at the causes of Southwest’s widespread cancellations and whether or not the airline was meeting its authorized obligations to stranded prospects. In an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, he stated “we are past the point where they could say this is a weather-driven issue,” calling the airline’s issues a “system failure.”

For weary Southwest prospects, nevertheless, tomorrow might convey hope. According to FlightAware, the airline to date has canceled solely 39 flights scheduled for Friday.

—CBS News’ Alain Sherter contributed reporting.

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