Southwest Airlines continues canceling flights as New Year holiday approaches

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(CNN) — After a disastrous week of weather-related flight cancellations and delays, U.S. air travelers hoping for clear skies Tuesday will have to put up with a few more days, especially if they’re flying with Southwest Airlines. .

According to flight tracking website FlightAware, as of 6:15 a.m. ET Tuesday, more than 2,845 flights inside and outside the United States have already been cancelled.

Of the canceled flights, 2,509 were operated by Southwest Airlines.

Denver International Airport was the most affected by Tuesday’s cancellations, followed by Chicago Midway International Airport, Baltimore/Washington International Airport, Harry Reed International Airport in Las Vegas, Dallas Love Field and Nashville International Airport.

Tuesday’s cancellations followed a full day of post-Christmas travel disruption, with 3,989 flights canceled Monday, including 2,909 Southwest flights.

Southwest Airlines has warned that such cancellations and delays are expected to continue for several more days, prompting the Dallas-based airline to scale back its flight schedules to keep operations on track. It says it is planned.

Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan told The Wall Street Journal that the airline will be operating just over a third of its schedule over the next few days to ensure crews are in the right position. said he plans to.

According to, Jordan added that the shortened schedule could be extended.

“Today was a tough day, and tomorrow will probably be another,” Jordan said in an interview with Monday night.

“This is the biggest event I have ever seen.”

What can stranded passengers do?

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

He reported that at one point about 150 customers were waiting in a long line to rebook, with the line meandering behind the ticket counter.

Calls made by CNN to Southwest’s customer service on Monday afternoon went unanswered, and customers couldn’t even wait in line to speak to a representative. Southwest told CNN he “has enough staff to answer the phone.”

Travelers wait to pick up their bags at a Southwest Airlines baggage counter after a flight is canceled at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 26, 2022.

Eugene Garcia/AP

The airline also states that “those whose flights have been canceled can either request a full refund or receive flight credits that do not expire.”

If you’re frustrated and left out and your efforts to contact a customer service agent are unsuccessful, the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights suggests trying an international phone number.

“Primary hotlines for U.S. airlines will be congested with rebooking other passengers. To reach an agent immediately, call any of the airline’s dozens of international offices. said Scott Keyes.

“Agents can process bookings just like US-based agencies, but with very little wait to get through.”

Southwest spokesperson: “Be careful… keep your receipts.”

A spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines (SWA) said recent winter storms were responsible for thousands of flight cancellations on Monday and advance cancellations on Tuesday.

“As the storm continued to spread across the country, impacting many large broadcasters, cancellations continued to climb from 100 to 150,” Jay McVay said at a press conference at Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport. It has increased to 1,000,” he said on Monday night.

“These cancellations will result in flight crews and planes being out of place and not being placed in the cities where they are needed to continue operations.”

McVay said the company’s top priority right now is safety. “We want to make sure that we operate these flights safely and that our crew has a legitimate and sufficient amount of time to operate these flights,” he said.

“We will do whatever it takes to solve the challenges we are facing right now,” he said, adding, “We have hotels, ride assistance, vans, rental cars, etc. to help these people get home as quickly as possible. I will do it.” as possible. “

He promised to accommodate all customers, including those who have already left the airport or who have made separate arrangements themselves.

“If you’ve already left home, take care of yourself, do what’s necessary for your family, and keep your receipts,” McVay said. It doesn’t matter.”

An announcement made at the terminal before a press conference apologized to customers and said the next available SWA seat would be after Saturday, Dec. 31. It said it would provide “sufficient rooms for all customers affected by this disruption”.

US government ‘concerned’ about cancellation

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) issued a statement about the massive flight cancellations by Southwest Airlines on Monday, saying the company was “concerned.”

“USDOT is concerned by Southwest Airlines’ reports of unacceptable cancellation rates and delays and lack of prompt customer service. We will investigate compliance with our service plan,” the agency tweeted.

Meanwhile, in a call with CNN on Monday, Capt. Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said the problems Southwest Airlines is experiencing have been brewing for a long time.

“We’ve been plagued with these issues for the last 20 months,” he said. “We have seen this kind of meltdown happen far more regularly. It has to do with outdated processes and outdated IT.”

When asked about airline processes, he said they haven’t changed since the 1990s. It’s a program that’s being run, and that’s where the problem is, it’s an airline-wide system.”

“This is ultimately a leadership issue,” Murray said. “This situation will continue and customers and employees will continue to suffer until there is some real change and real leadership to take the airline into the 21st century.”

in other developments

— In hard-hit western New York, Buffalo International Airport in its latest tweet said it has no plans to resume passenger flights before 11am ET on Wednesday, delaying its scheduled reopening an additional 24 hours later than previously expected.
— Greyhound, the largest provider of intercity bus services, issued a service alert on Monday afternoon, saying that due to winter weather, many scheduled services in the Northeast have either been canceled or canceled until further notice. Said it would be discontinued. Affected cities include Buffalo, Cleveland and Syracuse.

hard holiday week

The winter storm that hit the United States was ill-timed for travelers as flights over the Christmas week began to return to pre-pandemic levels.

According to FlightAware, 3,178 flights were canceled and 6,870 delayed over Christmas.

According to FlightAware, a total of 3,487 flights were canceled on Christmas Eve.

Friday was the worst day of the streak with 5,934 cancellations, while Thursday had almost 2,700 cancellations.

Andi Babineau, Dave Alsap, Leslie Perrot, and Ross Levitt of CNN contributed to this article.

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