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Southwest Airlines’ holiday travel nightmare draws government ire

Passengers arrive on a Southwest Airlines flight at Chicago’s Midway International Airport amid increasing flight cancellations as the weather phenomenon known as the Bomb Cyclone hits the Upper Midwest. (Matt Merton/Reuters)

President Biden, members of his administration, and lawmakers have said Southwest Airlines has canceled more than 5,000 flights in the past two days, leaving passengers stranded across the country in an ongoing holiday travel debacle. It’s aimed at Southwest Airlines.

Southwest Airlines alone accounts for about 86% of domestic cancellations on Tuesday. The day before, the U.S. Department of Transportation called Southwest’s actions “unacceptable,” as the company far outnumbered other airlines in canceling flights.

Passengers in cities such as Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California have been told by airlines that they can’t reschedule for days, and piled luggage has created a surreal scene at airports across the country.

monday night, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted. He said he was tracking the travel disruptions “closely” and “will have more to say about this tomorrow.”

Without specifying Southwest states, Biden encouraged affected passengers to visit the Department of Transportation’s website to see if they were “entitled to compensation.”

Senators Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) have put pressure directly on Southwest Airlines to refund tickets and give stranded passengers a “breakup plan for their vacation.” It seeks to provide “substantial monetary compensation for the interruption.”

Following the holiday break, it seems certain that the Southwest will be in the crosshairs of a congressional inquiry. While the bad weather created by the polar vortex sweeping across the country and crippling two of Southwest Airlines’ hubs, Chicago and Denver, explains some of the airline’s problems, lawmakers said. is also responsible for Southwest Airlines’ business decisions.

Amid staffing shortages, the company canceled 63% of its scheduled flights on Tuesday, and passenger problems are likely to persist for the next few days. Already Southwest Airlines has announced another 2,500 on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post. I canceled my flight.