September 25, 2023
Southwest Airways disruption leaves prospects stranded, name facilities swamped
Editor’s Word — Please click on right here for Tuesday, December 27, protection of this story.

(CNN) — Final week’s winter climate journey mess is lingering like a vicious hangover into this week — and the complications have been migraine-proportioned for Southwest Airways, its CEO Bob Jordan, airline staff and most of all its annoyed passengers on Monday.

A complete of 4,002 flights inside, into or out of the US have been canceled on Monday, based on flight monitoring web site FlightAware, whereas 9,259 flights have been delayed.

However Southwest accounts for a whopping share of these. Not one of the different US carriers have canceled practically as many flights or as a lot of their schedule as Southwest.

The Dallas-based airline had canceled 71% of its flights — j2,909 whole — on Monday, based on FlightAware. At one level, the airline canceled round 300 flights within the span of a half hour Monday afternoon.

And it appears to be like just like the Southwest ache will unfold into Tuesday.

Greater than 2,400 of these flights have been already canceled as of 10:50 p.m. ET Monday. That is the lion’s share of the greater than 2,600 flight cancellations reported to this point for Tuesday for all US airways.

CEO: ‘A variety of points within the operation’

On Christmas night time, forward of Monday’s meltdown, Jordan informed staff the airline has “quite a lot of points within the operation proper now.”

CNN was supplied a transcript of the message to Southwest staff by an aviation supply.

Jordan informed staff, “A part of what we’re struggling is a scarcity of instruments. We have talked an terrible lot about modernizing the operation, and the necessity to do this.”

Jordan informed The Wall Road Journal the corporate plans to function simply over a 3rd of its schedule in upcoming days to present itself the power for crews to get into the proper positions.

“We had a troublesome day right this moment. In all chance we’ll have one other robust day tomorrow as we work our approach out of this.”

Passengers are mad

On social media, prospects are complaining loudly about lengthy traces to talk with representatives, issues with misplaced baggage and extreme wait instances or busy alerts on the airline’s customer support phone traces. One passenger informed CNN her household was on the cellphone for 10 hours with Southwest.

Passenger Ella Silverstein looks upward while waiting in the line to book a flight  Monday in front of  the Southwest Airlines ticket counter at Denver International Airport.

Passenger Ella Silverstein appears to be like upward whereas ready within the line to guide a flight Monday in entrance of the Southwest Airways ticket counter at Denver Worldwide Airport.

Hyoung Chang/Denver Put up/Getty Photos

On Monday night, Southwest representatives at Denver Worldwide Airport made an announcement over airport terminal audio system indicating flight rebooking for stranded passengers wouldn’t be obtainable till Friday, based on a CNN staff on the airport.

The announcement additionally stated new bookings wouldn’t be attainable till January 3.

Folks in line appeared to shrug off the announcement, CNN’s Leslie Perrot noticed.

She stated passengers have informed them all through the day that they are standing in line to talk with an individual, as most individuals have been unsuccessful reaching representatives over the cellphone and the web site shouldn’t be operational.

Customers wait to rebook their Southwest Airlines flight at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Monday.

Clients wait to rebook their Southwest Airways flight at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Worldwide Airport on Monday.


CNN’s Carlos Suarez spoke with annoyed passengers in line on the Southwest ticket counter at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Worldwide Airport on Monday afternoon.

He is reported that about 150 prospects have been ready in a protracted line at one level to rebook, with the road snaking across the again of the ticket counter.

‘Flight crews and airplanes … misplaced’

A spokesperson for Southwest blamed the current winter storm for the cancellations.

“Because the storm continued to brush throughout the nation, it continued to affect a lot of our bigger stations and so the cancellations simply compiled one after one other to 100 to 150 to 1,000,” Jay McVay stated at a information convention at Houston’s William P. Passion Airport on Monday night time.

“With these cancellations and because of this, we find yourself with flight crews and airplanes which are misplaced and never within the cities that they have to be in to proceed to run our operations.”

“We are going to do every thing that we have to do to proper the challenges that we have had proper now,” he stated, together with “accommodations, journey help, vans … rental vehicles to attempt and ensure these of us get dwelling as rapidly as attainable.”

He promised that every one prospects, even those that had already left the airport or made alternate preparations on their very own, would even be taken care of.

“If you happen to’ve already left, handle your self, do what it’s good to do for your loved ones, hold your receipts,” McVay relayed. “We are going to ensure they’re taken care of, that’s not a query.”

An announcement made within the airport terminal earlier than the information convention apologized to prospects, and stated the following obtainable Southwest seats are on Saturday.

The agent stated Southwest can be offering buses to space accommodations and guaranteed that “we can have adequate rooms for all prospects who’re affected by this disruption.”

Emphasis on security

Southwest earlier responded in an emailed assertion Monday afternoon emphasizing security:

“With consecutive days of maximum winter climate throughout our community behind us, persevering with challenges are impacting our Clients and Workers in a big approach that’s unacceptable,” the assertion learn.

We’re working with Security on the forefront to urgently handle wide-scale disruption. … On the opposite facet of this, we’ll work to make issues proper for these we have let down, together with our Workers.”

A number of the airports seeing the largest points have been Denver, Chicago Halfway, Baltimore/Washington, Dallas Love Area, Nashville and Las Vegas.

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

Clients encountered lengthy traces at Southwest counters on Monday at Raleigh-Durham Worldwide Airport.


Calls made Monday afternoon by CNN to Southwest’s customer support didn’t undergo, so prospects could not even get within the queue to talk to a consultant. Nonetheless, Southwest informed CNN it’s “totally staffed to reply calls.”

The airline additionally says, “these whose flights have been canceled could request a full refund or obtain a flight credit score, which doesn’t expire.”

A tweet from Southwest directing prospects to self-service choices had greater than 1,000 replies — a lot of them indignant — round 6 p.m. ET.

One of many replies partially learn: “Cease blaming the WEATHER! Had to purchase a first-class ticket on one other airline but it surely TOOK OFF ON TIME! You continue to have our baggage with treatment inside! Cannot get by way of on the cellphone!”

Ripple results at Southwest

Within the Sunday night time message to staff, Jordan stated, “We’d like to have the ability to produce options quicker.” He stated the airline is “dedicated to and invested in” bettering its programs.

The US Division of Transportation issued an announcement on Monday’s huge flight cancellations by Southwest, saying the company is “involved.”

“USDOT is worried by Southwest’s unacceptable fee of cancellations and delays & experiences of lack of immediate customer support. The Division will study whether or not cancellations have been controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer support plan,” the agency tweeted.

The president of the union that represents Southwest’s flight attendants informed CNN’s Pamela Brown in an on-air interview Monday that these programs have left its members stranded.

“The cellphone system the corporate makes use of is simply not working. They’re simply not manned with sufficient manpower to be able to give the scheduling adjustments to flight attendants, and that is created a ripple impact that’s creating chaos all through the nation,” Lyn Montgomery, president of TWU Native 556, informed CNN.

She stated some flight attendants wanted to sleep in airports because of this.

Flight crew remedy referred to as ‘despicable’

Montgomery expressed outrage on behalf of employees and prospects late Monday afternoon in a information launch.

“The way in which Southwest Airways has handled its flight crews can solely be termed ‘despicable,'” stated Montgomery. “… Imagine me, we find out about stepping up and placing in lengthy work hours after we are referred to as to take action; we’re flight attendants.

“However at this level, the numerous years of failure by administration, regardless of many unions’ calls for to modernize, has left flight attendants fatigued, stranded, hungry and chilly — on Christmas!”

“The corporate’s failures are taking place year-round, however are significantly egregious on Christmas,” Montgomery stated. “Our prospects struggled with it simply as our hundreds of flight attendants did.”

Kathleen Bangs, a FlightAware spokesperson, stated in on-air interview that Southwest’s schedule consists of shorter flights with tighter turnaround instances which are inflicting a number of the issues. “These turnaround instances bathroom issues down,” Bangs stated.

CNN has reached out to the airline for touch upon Jordan’s video message.

What can stranded passengers do?

If you happen to’ve been left within the lurch and your efforts to achieve a customer support agent are going nowhere, the founding father of Scott’s Low-cost Flights suggests attempting a world quantity.

“The principle hotline for US airways shall be clogged with different passengers getting rebooked. To get by way of to an agent rapidly, name any one of many airline’s dozens of worldwide workplaces” Scott Keyes stated.

“Brokers can deal with your reservation similar to US-based ones can, however there’s just about no wait to get by way of.”

A ten-hour cellphone name

Michelle Perkins, her husband JJ and their six kids had their flights canceled whereas ready on the airport in Las Vegas on Christmas Eve. The household was headed to Orlando for a shock vacation journey for the children, she stated.

“Went from hero to zero” after the journey was canceled, stated Perkins, who posted on Instagram together with a video of the household getting ready for the journey.

Perkins was touring with children from ages 17 years previous to fifteen months. She informed CNN that when their flight was canceled, they headed to baggage declare to get their baggage together with their automobile seats.

“We went to baggage to retrieve our baggage and automobile seats, waited over an hour with six children in tears solely to be informed that … baggage and automobile seats should proceed on to their vacation spot in Orlando.”

Perkins stated her husband was on a cellphone name with Southwest Airways for practically 10 hours to get their flights refunded and file a declare on their baggage. She added that they have been informed their baggage was on the Las Vegas airport.

“We went again to the airport to choose it up, they usually denied that our baggage was nonetheless there, we informed them that it was tracked at Las Vegas, so then they modified their story and stated it was in a safe location on the tarmac they usually can’t get it as a result of there are too many baggage.”

As of Monday afternoon, that they had but to be reunited with their checked baggage.

Perkins stated they’re simply grateful they have been in a position to return dwelling to Las Vegas as a substitute of being stranded in one other metropolis.

Any reduction in sight?

CNN meteorologist Tom Sater particulars the most recent forecast as a lethal winter storm continues to blast a lot of the US with brutal winter climate.

It could possibly be subsequent week earlier than that is all utterly sorted out.

“When there’s greater than 10,000 flight cancellations over the previous week, it takes time for airways to work by way of and reaccommodate the backlog of vacationers,” Keyes informed CNN Journey in an e-mail.

“Whereas it’s going to rely on the climate forecast (which appears to be like promising for a lot of the nation) and what variety of vacationers wind up canceling their vacation plans, I would anticipate that by subsequent week, issues can have largely returned to regular,” Keyes stated.

And why are so many individuals having hassle rebooking?

“One complicating issue for individuals hoping to get reaccommodated is the truth that there are so few obtainable seats this season,” Keyes stated.

“That is each as a result of Christmas and New Yr is likely one of the hottest instances of 12 months for journey, and since the variety of flights on the schedule this 12 months remains to be down 15-20%, making the problem even steeper for these needing to get rebooked.”

Buffalo nonetheless reeling

In the meantime, in hard-hit western New York, Buffalo Worldwide Airport stated in its most up-to-date tweet that it plans to renew passenger flights at 11 a.m. ET Wednesday, pushing again the anticipated reopening by one other 24 hours than beforehand anticipated.

The temperature on the airport was 19 levels Fahrenheit (minus 7 Celsius) round 8 p.m. ET Monday, with gentle snow falling on high of the massive quantities the realm has already seen.

And it is not simply the airport affected there. Street journey remained treacherous due to excessive wintry situations.

In New York state’s western Erie County, emergency restrictions on driving have been lifted in some communities however remained in place in Buffalo, County Government Mark Poloncarz stated Monday.

“The Metropolis of Buffalo is impassable in most areas, whereas mains could have a lane open for emergency site visitors or two, most secondaries in addition to facet streets haven’t been touched but,” Poloncarz stated.

He including that the cleared foremost roads are primarily for using life-saving measures to open up areas round hospitals and nursing properties.

A tough previous week

A winter storm that swept throughout the US was ill-timed for vacationers who had began pushing Christmas week flying numbers again towards pre-pandemic ranges.

On Christmas Day, there have been 3,178 flights canceled and 6,870 flight delayed, based on FlightAware.

On Christmas Eve, there have been a complete of three,487 flights canceled, based on FlightAware.

Friday was the worst day of this streak with 5,934 cancellations, whereas Thursday noticed nearly 2,700 cancellations.

This megablast of winter climate throughout the jap two-thirds of the nation is forecast to slowly reasonable this week.

CNN’s Ross Levitt, Leslie Perrot, Andi Babineau, Amanda Jackson, Rebekah Reiss, Chris Boyette and Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this story.

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