Southwest Woes Continue as it Cancels 63% of Flights Tuesday
Most of the United States has experienced an unprecedented winter storm over the last few days. Some areas have seen wild swings in temperatures and other are buried under multiple feet of snow. All that has led to widespread flight cancellations over the Christmas holiday. This weeks things are improving and it seems that air travel is getting back to normal, unless you’re flying Southwest.
The airline is experiencing an epic meltdown, canceling thousands of flights daily. As of Tuesday morning, 2,944 flights within, into or out of the United States were canceled, 2547 of which are Southwest Airlines flights, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking website. On Monday, 2,909 of the 4,006 canceled flights were Southwest.
That means that on Monday, Southwest canceled 71% of its flights. Another 19% were delayed. So only 10% of Southwest customers got to fly on time. Today 63% of Southwest flight are canceled and 16% are delayed. Tomorrow, 62% are already canceled.
So why is Southwest canceling so many flights? It’s a mix of things.
Spiking cases of Covid, the flu and RSV are partly to blame. But other airlines are also affected by these new infections. Weather is another factor that could have affected Southwest more than its counterparts. The storm hit Chicago and Denver really hard and that’s where Southwest has two of its biggest hubs.
But Southwest is also to blame as it’s evident from the numbers. The airline has scheduled aggressively expecting a rebound in travel, while underinvesting in its operations. Southwest’s schedule includes shorter flights with tighter turnaround times, which are causing problems, Kathleen Bangs, a FlightAware spokesperson, told CNN. “Those turnaround times bog things down,” Bangs said.
Things are bad when it comes to customer service as well. Customers have been unable to get through to Southwest’s customer service lines to rebook flights or find lost baggage. Employees also said they have not been able to communicate with the airline, the president of the union that represents Southwest’s Flight Attendants told CNN Monday.
DOT Will Investigate
The government is also looking into these record cancellations. The Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced on Monday night that they are taking the matter seriously and will be investigating Southwest Airlines’ “unacceptable rate of cancellations.” The DOT said on Twitter that it “will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.”