Southwest Airlines disruption leaves customers stranded, call centers at a standstill

(CNN) – Last week’s wintry weather travel chaos is lingering like a hangover this week — and on Monday it was of migraine proportions for Southwest Airlines and its frustrated passengers.

According to the flight tracking website, more than 3,500 flights to, within or out of the US had already been canceled by 3 pm ET. FlightAwareNearly 5,000 flights are delayed.

But the Southwest has its fair share of them.

According to FlightAware, the Dallas-based airline had canceled more than half of its flights — more than 2,600 total — as of 3 p.m. Monday. Around 300 flights were canceled in half an hour on Monday afternoon.

Customers are complaining on social media Problems with long lines to speak to representatives, lost bags and excessive wait times, or busy signals on the airline’s customer service phone lines.

‘Disruption across our network’

Customers faced long lines at Southwest counters Monday at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.


In a statement to CNN, Southwest Airlines said “(the winter storm) is experiencing disruptions across our network as a result of the lingering effects on our operations overall.”

Denver, Las Vegas, Chicago Midway, Baltimore/Washington and Southwest’s Dallas Love Field are some of the airports seeing the biggest problem.

Calls to Southwest’s customer service did not go through CNN Monday afternoon, so customers were unable to get in line to speak with a representative. Southwest has CNN “fully staffed to respond to calls.”

The airline adds, “Those whose flights have been canceled can claim a full refund or get a flight credit, which will not expire.”

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Meanwhile, in hard-hit western New York, Buffalo International Airport plans to resume passenger flights at 11 a.m. Tuesday, according to its latest tweet.

The temperature at the airport was 19 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 7 Celsius) at 3 p.m. ET, with the largest amount of snow the area had already seen.

What can stranded passengers do?

If you’ve been left confused and your attempts to reach a customer service agent have gone nowhere, its founder Scott’s Cheap Flights Recommend to try international number.

“The main hotline for US airlines is clogged with other passengers being rebooked. Call any of the airline’s dozens of international offices to get an agent quickly,” said Scott Keyes.

“Agents can handle your booking just like US-based ones, but there’s no need to wait to receive it.”

Poor road conditions

Road travel remained treacherous in parts of the United States due to bitterly cold weather.

In western Erie County, New York state, emergency driving restrictions were lifted in some communities. Buffalo was in placeDistrict Administrator Mark Bolancarz said Monday.

“Buffalo City is impassable in most areas, and while a lane or two of emergency traffic may be open on the mains, most secondary and side streets are still untouched,” Bollencarz said.

He said there are main roads that have been cleared primarily for the use of life-saving measures to open areas around hospitals and nursing homes.

Last week was tough

A winter storm that swept across the U.S. was bad timing for travelers as Christmas week began to push flying numbers back toward pre-pandemic levels.

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On Christmas Day, 3,178 flights were canceled and 6,870 were delayed, according to FlightAware.

A total of 3,487 flights were canceled on Christmas Eve, according to FlightAware.

Friday was the series’ worst day with 5,934 cancellations, while Thursday saw almost 2,700 cancellations.

This megablast of wintry weather is forecast to slowly moderate this week across the eastern two-thirds of the country.

There are many more developments to come on this breaking news story.

CNN’s Ross Levitt, Chris Boyette and Artemis Moshtagian contributed to this story.

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