The winter storm disrupted weekend travel plans and created an epic pile of flight cancellations for Southwest Airlines, leaving the carrier’s passengers “beyond desperate.”. Thousands of families are stranded, waiting days to board flights.
As of 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, Southwest had canceled 62% of its flights and the remaining 88% were delayed, according to the Flight Tracker website. FlightAware.com.
Talia Jones, a Southwest Air customer, told CBS DFW that she’s “frustrated and hurt because I can’t see my dad. So yeah, it’s very disappointing.” On Monday afternoon, a sign at Dallas’ Love Field showed every visit canceled, reporter Kelly Lago reported.
At Chicago’s Midway International Airport — Southwest’s main airport — wait times were long and patience was short Monday night..
A traveler described this situation. Apart from long queues occupying space, hundreds and hundreds of bags were waiting to be claimed as cancellations and delays kept piling up.
“It’s hell,” said Denzil Smothers, whose flight was canceled.
The federal Department of Transportation said Monday it was “concerned by Southwest Airlines’ disproportionate and unacceptable cancellations and delays and failure to properly support customers experiencing cancellations or delays.”
“As more information becomes available, the department will closely examine whether the cancellation is controllable and whether Southwest is in compliance with its customer service program and all other DOT regulations,” the department said in a statement.
Passenger Michael Basson and his family planned to fly out of Orlando International Airport on Friday to return home to Indianapolis in time for Christmas on Sunday. Instead, the four spent their vacation in a hotel after their flight was canceled, Bauzon told CBS affiliate WKMG, and returned to the airport on Monday — where they continued to wait.
“We got here at 4:30 for a 7:05 flight this morning and we saw it, oh it’s canceled,” he said, gesturing to a line in front of the Southwest service counter. “It’s a four- to five-hour line … before they get us on the plane — if they can get us on the plane,” he said.
Widespread storm, outdated technology
In a statement that opened Monday with “sincere apologies,” Southwest said its geography was “uniquely” vulnerable to the storm, with half of the airports it flies to affected by winter weather.
“We were fully staffed and prepared for the holiday weekend when severe weather swept across the continent, where Southwest is the largest carrier in 23 of the top 25 U.S. travel markets, forcing daily changes to our flight schedule. Our crews still have the tools to restore a capable aircraft. ,” Report said.
“As we approach the upcoming New Year holiday travel season, we anticipate additional changes with already limited flights,” it noted.
The company also blames the lack of technology. “Part of what we’re struggling with is a lack of tools. We’ve talked a lot about modernizing the operation and the need to do that,” CEO Bob Jordan said in an internal message Sunday, which was reported by multiple media outlets. Outlets and Flight Attendants Association.
Congested telephone lines, systems
Southwest steered customers away from congested phone lines, noting that it was experiencing “system Issues” amid heightened demand.
Spokesman Chris Perry said the airline’s online booking and check-in systems were still operating but had been disrupted by an “unusually” high level of traffic on their site. “We are re-accommodating as many customers as possible based on available space,” he told CBS News.
As Southwest blamed technology problems, the flight attendants union Transit Workers Union 556 accused the airline of contributing to the problem by underinvesting in technology over the years.
“A lack of technology has left the airline relying on manual solutions and personal phone calls, leaving flight attendants on hold with Southwest Airlines for up to 17 hours at a time, trying to get home after their trip or to secure a hotel room or find out where their next trip will be,” the union said in a statement. said in the report. “While rerouting and rerouting are understood as part of the airline’s job, the massive scale of the failure over the past few days points to a years-long abdication of responsibility for investing in and implementing technology. Many issues affect flight attendants and passengers alike.”
The union and the airline have been in contract negotiations for four years.
– With reporting by Zel Elvi, Kathryn Krupnik, Kris Van Cleave and Brian Dakss.