Southwest CEO Says Airline Is Trying to ‘End This Rolling Struggle’

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        Southwest Airlines<span class="company-name-type"> Ltd.</span>

  On Tuesday, the airline came under more scrutiny from Washington over the holiday storm meltdown, saying it would limit new bookings for flights scheduled to fly in the next few days.

Southwest Airlines has canceled 2,677 flights, or 65% of departures scheduled for Tuesday, according to FlightAware data. The airline said on Monday that the shortened schedule would extend through at least Thursday. Airlines have canceled nearly 11,000 flights since last Thursday as they struggle to stabilize operations hampered by winter weather.

Meanwhile, Southwest customers across the country were still struggling to reach their destinations, with many leaving their luggage en route.

Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan says Southwest Airlines will be back on track by next week as it continues to reduce schedules to allow it to recover personnel and planes. He said he was optimistic that it could be done.

In a video statement Tuesday night, Jordan apologized to customers and said the airline was doing everything it could to get back to normal.

“We are focused on getting all the parts back in place safely to end this rolling struggle,” he said. “Obviously, we need to further strengthen our existing plans to upgrade our systems for these extreme situations so that we do not face what is happening now,” he said.

Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat, said Tuesday that the Senate Commerce Committee will investigate the disruption to Southwest Airlines flights.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met with Jordan and aviation union leaders Tuesday afternoon. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced. He reiterated that the agency expects Southwest Airlines to “fulfill its obligations to passengers and workers and take steps to ensure that situations like this do not occur again.”

Buttigieg said Tuesday on NBC Nightly News, “We all know we can’t control the weather, but it’s clear that this is going from uncontrollable weather conditions to being the direct responsibility of the airlines. It’s crossing the line,” he said.

Photo: Package from Southwest Airlines stuck in transit

Jordan said Southwest is “leaning and moving ahead.” He said the airline is processing refunds and reaching out to customers who are dealing with costly detours.

Airlines on Tuesday removed seats for sale on their websites to prevent people from booking flights that could eventually be canceled and to give various systems time to sync. Overall, most flights scheduled for the next few days are shown as unavailable.

“Due to limited schedules and a large number of re-accommodations, we have very low inventory available to book flights across our network, but we continue to operate flights,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

Sarah Jane Graham, a 25-year-old engineer from Boston, said she wants to spend this week in Florida with her boyfriend. She was stranded in Nashville, Tennessee, in the middle of her trip when her connecting flight was canceled on Monday. I booked a flight. She and her boyfriend are hoping to see each other on New Years instead.

Graham has checked the two bags, but says he doesn’t know when they will be reunited. She said she had been waiting in line for more than four hours at baggage claim on Monday, hoping to receive her package.

When she finally made it to the front of the line, she was told there weren’t enough staff to pull her luggage from the tarmac or elsewhere at the airport. And that included a Christmas present for my boyfriend. “I regret stuffing her toothbrush in there,” she joked, and put most of the other essentials in her carry-on.

A Southwest employee told Ms. Graham that her package would still be flown to Florida.

She said an airline staff member told her she would have to pick up the package herself from Boston Logan International Airport, but the airline said in an email that customers should “deliver their luggage to an address of their choice. You can choose to have it delivered for free.” I will be contacting the customer within the next few days to arrange the delivery.

Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan said the airline is processing refunds and reaching out to customers dealing with costly diversions.


Tyler Pasiak Larivière/Chicago Sun-Times/AP

In an email, the company said, “The Southwest Airlines team is working diligently to ensure customers can reunite with their luggage after the recent network disruptions. We have created a section on our website for refunding missing baggage and requesting a refund.

Many other passengers face similar challenges after the Southwest Airlines meltdown derailed their travel plans. Becca Webster, 33, from Nashville, was scheduled to fly to Las Vegas on Monday morning by airline to visit his family and friends. She couldn’t get there because of her flight cancellation, but her luggage did.Ms. Webster has flown with Southwest Airlines in the past. Because, unlike most other airlines, this airline allows passengers to check in her two bags for free.

Webster’s checked bag contained medicine and a gift.

“Everything is 1,500 miles away now and I don’t know when we’ll get it back,” she said. She noticed that she checked her AirTags in her bag about every half hour to make sure they weren’t taken out of the airport.

She is considering whether to fly to Las Vegas to pick up the bag, or ask friends and family to pick it up.

Additional confusion caused by the luggage situation with Southwest has increased tensions between passengers and airline staff. Passengers near her said they were angry when rumors spread that she was unable to retrieve her luggage.

“It was like a wave, and it was building up. It was pure chaos,” she said.

On social media, people stranded at airports due to flight delays were advised to look for the phone number on the luggage tag of their unclaimed bag and contact the owner to let them know where their luggage was going. .

Write to Jacob Passy ([email protected]) and Alison Sider ([email protected]).

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