The holiday season is stressful enough — even more so with thousands of canceled and delayed flights. Some Southwest Airlines passengers could be stranded until the new year.
On Dec. 26, Southwest Airlines canceled more than 4,000 flights, according to KLIF. Recently retired Love Field Aviation Director Mark Duebner explained that passengers from 71% of Southwests’s flights were stuck in airports, hoping to find a new flight.
NPR reported that the number of canceled flights for Southwest Monday was more than 10 times higher than for Delta, the second-most cancellations by a U.S. airline. The U.S. Department of Transportation called the airline's issues "unacceptable" and an investigation into the problem is likely.
"USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service,” USDOT said in a statement. “The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.”
According to KLIF, the Federal government has promised to look into the cause of canceled flights across the country. Some passengers at Houston’s Hobby Airport received news that the earliest they can rebook a flight is Dec. 31. Another issue for the airline is with passengers' luggage arriving at airports without their owner.
Other Southwest issues are problems with connecting flight crews to their schedules, NPR reported. This made it difficult for employees to access crew scheduling services and get flight reassignments.
But Southwest’s scheduling system is not entirely to blame. The winter weather that hit the majority of the country created a domino effect, causing delays and cancellations to pile up.
“With consecutive days of extreme winter weather across our network behind us, continuing challenges are impacting our Customers and Employees in a significant way that is unacceptable,” Southwest said in a statement. “And our heartfelt apologies for this are just beginning.”
Southwest Airlines has not announced when flights will be caught up, but it could be well into the new year before some passengers are able to find a flight.
"We plan to operate a reduced schedule by flying roughly one-third of our schedule for the next several days," Southwest PR Team told Local Profile.
To find out more about cancellations, or to stay up to date on the latest flight information visit Southwest.com/traveldisruption.