Travel snarled as more than 2,500 flights already canceled on Tuesday

Southwest Airlines apologized as it canceled more than 2,500 flights scheduled for Tuesday in the fallout of a winter storm that snarled much of the U.S.

Southwest’s cancellations, which include more than 60 percent of its schedule, comprise the majority of the 2,867 U.S.-based flights canceled on Tuesday, according to FlightAware.

Most other major airlines have largely recovered from a weekend filled with flight cancellations and delays, but Southwest announced it will only fly roughly one-third of its schedule for the next several days.

“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 Airlines said in a statement on Monday. “And our heartfelt apologies for this are just beginning.”

The airline said it is repositioning its crews and planes to address the wide-scale disruption.

“We were fully staffed and prepared for the approaching holiday weekend when the severe weather swept across the continent, where Southwest is the largest carrier in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the U.S.,” the airline said. “These operational conditions forced daily changes to our flight schedule at a volume and magnitude that still has the tools our teams use to recover the airline operating at capacity.”

The issues have gotten the attention of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who indicated he will have “more to say” about Southwest’s cancellations on Tuesday.

“USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service,” the department wrote on Twitter. “The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.”

The Christmas-weekend storm marks a messy end to the year for airlines, which grappled with a resurgence in flying demand earlier this year that led to significant delays and cancellations in particular during summer holiday travel weekends.

Buttigieg had touted an improvement in reliability during the Thanksgiving travel period but had warned that the storm would prevent the same for those flying for Christmas.

His department has taken aim at airlines after consumer complaints soared this year, proposing tougher refund rules and promising to fine airlines that violate federal regulations.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post