Travelers “more than frustrated” by Southwest Airlines cancellations: “It’s been hell”

Southwest Airlines apologizes as thousands of flights are canceled and delayed

Southwest Airlines apologizes as thousands of flights are canceled and delayed


The winter storm that disrupted travel plans over the weekend and created an epic accumulation of flight cancellations for Southwest Airlines has left the carrier’s passengers ‘beyond frustrated’ as we put it on CBS DFW. Thousands of families have been stranded, waiting days to board planes.

As of Tuesday, Southwest had canceled more than 2,500, or 63%, of its scheduled flights as of 10:37 a.m. Eastern Time, according to flight tracking website This represented more than half of the approximately 4,650 flights that have been removed today. Airlines also continued to experience disruption, with Southwest leading with more than 300 delayed flights.

Talia Jones, a Southwest Air customer, told CBS DFW she was “beyond frustrated and hurt because I can’t see my dad. So yeah, that’s very disappointing.” On Monday afternoon, Dallas Love Field’s board of directors showed that every finish had been canceled, according to reporter Kelly Laco.

At Chicago’s Midway International Airport – where Southwest is the main carrier – wait times were high and patience was at an end Monday night, CBS Chicago said.

The situation was described by one traveler as nothing short of a mess. Along with long queues taking up space, hundreds and hundreds of bags were waiting to be claimed as cancellations and delays kept piling up.

“It’s been hell,” said Denzil Smothers, whose flight was canceled.

People have also taken to social media to blast Southwest, including a Twitter user who on Tuesday post video of bags stacked in Chicago at Midway Airport.

“We know erratic operations are frustrating for everyone involved, and we are truly sorry for any disappointment,” Southwest said. Told a traveler on Twitter who was upset by the wave of canceled flights.

The federal Department of Transportation said on Monday it would investigate the collapse, saying it was “concerned about the disproportionate and unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays by Southwest Airlines as well as the failure to properly support customers experiencing cancellations. or delay”.

“As more information becomes available, the department will closely review whether the cancellations were controllable and whether Southwest is complying with its customer service plan as well as all other relevant DOT rules,” said the department in a statement.

Traveler Michael Bauzon and his family had planned to leave Orlando International Airport on Friday to return home to Indianapolis in time for Christmas on Sunday. Instead, the four spent the vacation at a hotel after their flight was canceled, Bauzon told CBS affiliate WKMG, and were back at the airport on Monday – where they continued to wait.

“This morning we got here at 4:30 a.m. for a 7:05 a.m. flight, we looked at it, and oh, it had just been cancelled,” he said, pointing to a snaking line in front of the service counter at the South West. “It’s a four to five hour queue… before they can get us on a flight – if they can get us on a flight,” he said.

Southwest cancels more than 2,800 flights
Passengers line up at the Southwest Airlines counter at San Francisco International Airport on December 26, 2022.

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Widespread storm, outdated technology

In a Monday statement that opened with a “sincere apology,” Southwest said its geography made it “particularly” vulnerable to the storm, with half of the airports it flies to affected by winter conditions.

“We were full and prepared for the approaching 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. This forced changes daily to our flight schedule at a volume and scale that still has the tools our teams are using to restore the airline to full capacity,” the statement read.

“We expect further changes with an already reduced level of flights as we approach the next New Year holiday travel period,” he noted.

The company also blames a lack of technology. “Part of what we’re suffering from 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 reported by multiple outlets. . outlets and the flight attendants’ union.

Blocked telephone lines, systems

Southwest pulled customers away from blocked phone lines, noting it was experiencing “system issues” amid high demand.

Spokesman Chris Perry said the airline’s online reservation and check-in systems were still working, but were also blocked due to “abnormally high” traffic volumes on their site. “We are welcoming back as many customers as possible based on available space,” he told CBS News.

While Southwest blamed technology issues, the flight attendants’ union, Transit Workers Union 556, accused the airline of contributing to the problem by underinvesting in technology for years.

“Lack of technology has left the airline to rely on manual solutions and personal phone calls, leaving flight attendants on hold with Southwest Airlines for up to 5 p.m. at a time just to be released to return home after their trip, or while trying to secure a hotel room or find out where their next trip will be,” the union said in a statement. “While reroutings and reschedulings are considered part of the job in the airline industry, the massive scale of failure in recent days indicates a lack of accountability for many years to invest and implement technology that could help solve many of the problems plaguing 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.

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