Southwest should have seen holiday travel debacle coming – Santa Cruz Sentinel

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Southwest Airlines pledged today that passenger conditions will begin to improve by December 30th.

That may be so, but for travelers stuck at Bay Area airports trying to get to family reunions or heading home to Santa Cruz County, the past week has been a nightmare.

Airlines have canceled more than 15,000 flights since December 22, leaving many passengers and crew stranded for days. Many customers won’t even be able to rebook with the Southwest until Saturday or after.

Compounding this confusion are countless stories of passengers who have been unable to contact customer support, let alone rebook tickets, and have to sleep among hordes of travelers stranded at airports. It is reported to So much for reviews from budget travelers who consistently rank Southwest Airlines among the best airlines.

What seemed to set all this in motion was a massive snowstorm in the eastern half of the United States, which allowed all other domestic airlines to get back on track after Christmas, but Southwest Airlines , as the airline explained, only escalated the problem, accounting for about 99% of Thursday’s cancellations.

In the Bay Area, San Jose and Oakland airports have been hit particularly hard by cancellations, according to the Bay Area News Group.

San Jose Mineta International Airport canceled 147 Southwest flights on Wednesday, canceling 74% of flights to and from San Jose. San Jose’s predicament ranked him fourth in the country. Only airports in Long Beach, Sacramento, and Buffalo, NY, with more than 4 feet of snow, have higher flight cancellation rates than San Jose’s outbound flights.

At Auckland International Airport, 124 flights were canceled by Southwest Airlines on Wednesday. San Francisco International Airport is not a major hub for the Dallas-based airline, but his 79% of Southwest flights have been cancelled. Southwest Airlines has canceled more than 100 more Bay Area flights scheduled for Thursday.

Additionally, many passengers who missed family gatherings have also lost their luggage as the epic Southwest meltdown sent bags across the country. It said it hasn’t, but scenes of luggage piled up at airports across the country flooded social media. Every customer, even with a cheap seat, with a ticket he can receive two free checked bags.

Southwest’s failure to modernize its infrastructure has been blamed for the disruption. Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, told CNN that the airline is one of the largest in the United States and still uses 30-year-old telephone and computing systems. said there is. The system had no idea where the crew was and could not match pilots, flight attendants and planes.

The Biden administration is now reviewing it, with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg calling the situation “unacceptable” and planning to investigate the meltdown.

Many airlines are struggling as COVID lockdowns have cost them two years of business. The federal aid that kept them alive came with an obligation not to lay off or furlough employees. This has led airlines to offer severance pay and buyout packages to save cash, leading to a shortage of pilots and crew.

But Southwest Airlines, which received more than $7 billion from the federal government during the pandemic to bolster its business, continues to pay dividends to shareholders even after a similar failure in 2021, making investors more interested than customers. seems to take precedence.

Now Southwest CEO Bob Jordan has promised to make the necessary upgrades, and said the airline will “go above and beyond” for those affected.

At a minimum, Southwest Airlines should fully compensate affected passengers and enable passengers and crew to quickly upgrade outdated computer systems. Full refunds for canceled flights and payments for meals and hotel stays are the least an airline can do for a customer who has missed a holiday gathering or lost a long-planned vacation.

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