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Southwest Airlines cancels more flights this week, draws federal investigation

DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines scrubbed thousands of flights again on Tuesday. huge winter storm The move has wrecked Christmas travel plans across the United States, and the federal government said it would investigate why the airline has lagged so far behind other airlines.

Southwest canceled about 2,600 more flights on the East Coast by late afternoon, a day after most U.S. airlines recovered from the storm. It accounted for over 80% of the 3,000 canceled trips.

And the chaos seemed certain to continue. The company also cut his 2,500 flights on Wednesday and nearly 1,400 on Thursday in an attempt to restore order to its chaotic schedule.

At major Southwestern airports, customers stand in long lines, find a seat on another flightThey explained that they waited hours for help and only got disconnected. Some even tried to rent a car to reach their destination faster. Others found a place to sleep on the floor. Luggage piled up heavily.

Conrad Stoll, a 66-year-old retired construction worker from Missouri, was due to fly from Kansas City to Los Angeles for his father’s 90th birthday party until the Southwest flight was canceled early Tuesday morning. He said he couldn’t even see his 88-year-old mother.

“I went there in 2019 and she looked at me and said, ‘I’m never going to see you again.’ It’s like, ‘It just really went away.'”

Stoll hopes to see her parents again when the weather warms up in the spring.

In a video Southwest posted late Tuesday, CEO Robert Jordan said Southwest will operate on a reduced schedule for a few days but hopes to be “back on track by next week.” said.

Jordan blamed the winter storms for disrupting the airline’s “very complex” network. Southwest’s tools for recovering from disruptions “work 99% of the time, but obviously we need to double down on system upgrades to avoid a repeat this week,” he said.

Jordan, a 34-year Southwest veteran who took over as CEO in February, said: “For now, I want you to know that we are committed to it.

The problem started over the weekend and snowballed on Monday, with Southwest Airlines canceling more than 70% of its flights.

It was after the worst of the storm had passed. Many pilots and flight attendants were not in a position to work on their flights, according to the airline. Union leaders representing Southwest Airlines’ pilots and flight attendants denounced outdated crew scheduling software and criticized the company’s management.

Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said the airline was unable to fix the issues that caused a similar meltdown in October 2021.

“There’s a lot of complaints about this because it’s so preventable,” Murray said. “Airlines can’t connect crews to planes. They didn’t even know where the pilots were.”

Murray said managers had asked some airport pilots to report to a central location this week, wrote down the names of the pilots who were there, and forwarded the list to headquarters.

Lynn Montgomery, president of the Transportation Workers Union, which represents Southwest Airlines’ flight attendants, said she and other union leaders repeatedly told management that the airline’s scheduling skills weren’t good enough.

“This is what we saw,” she said. “This is a very devastating event.”

The airline is currently attracting unwanted attention from Washington.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has criticized the airline for previous disruptions, said his agency is investigating what caused Southwest Airlines’ widespread cancellations and whether the airline is meeting its legal obligations to stranded customers. said to

Buttigieg told NBC Nightly News, “While we understand that the weather cannot be controlled, this crosses the line from uncontrollable weather conditions to being the direct responsibility of the airlines. It’s clear,” he said. Southwest Airlines should at least provide cash refunds for canceled flights and cover hotel and board costs for stranded passengers, he said.

In Congress, the Senate Commerce Committee also pledged to investigate. Two Senate Democrats say airlines have the money as they plan to pay out a $428 million dividend next month, urging Southwest to offer “substantial” compensation to stranded travelers. I asked the airline.

Bryce Berger and his family were scheduled to depart San Diego on December 24 to take a cruise to Mexico, but the flight from Denver was canceled without warning. I was rebooked via Via, but that flight was canceled while I was sitting at the gate.

“It’s horrible,” Berger said by phone Tuesday from Salt Lake City, where he decided to drive after his family abandoned the cruise.

With the family’s luggage still at Denver Airport and a flight to California booked separately, Berger isn’t sure if he’ll be able to get a refund for the cruise.

The size and intensity of the storm has wreaked havoc on many airlines, but the largest number of flights canceled Tuesday was on major Southwest airlines, including Denver, Chicago Midway, Las Vegas, Baltimore and Dallas. It was the airport where my company was.

Spirit Airlines and Alaska Airlines both canceled about 10% of flights, while American, Delta, United and JetBlue had much lower cancellation rates.

Kristy Smiley was due to fly back to Los Angeles until Southwest canceled her flight on Tuesday, so she waited at the Kansas City airport for her mom to pick her up. I can’t put it on another plane.

Smiley said the airline continued to blame the weather after the storm had passed and did not tell passengers why the plane could not take off.

“They acted like they were leaving (Tuesday’s flight) and they started saying ‘Oh, five minutes.’ Oh, ten minutes. I don’t know what’s going on with them. There seems to be,” she said.

It took Danielle Zanin four days to get her husband and two young children home from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Illinois, after several canceled flights, sleeping at the airport, and never going back to the South. I vowed never to fly West Airlines. They stopped at airports in Denver and Phoenix and paid her $1,400 for four one-way American Airlines tickets to leave the Southwest and arrive in Chicago.

I remember saying, “Oh, I’m going to get on a plane!” It was honestly a shock because I thought she would be stuck at the airport forever,” she said.

Zanin plans to ask Southwest to reimburse part of the original ticket and part of the new American Airlines ticket, as well as additional costs for car rentals, parking, Uber rides, and meals (totaling about $2,000).

“I don’t trust them to do anything,” she said.

https://fox40.com/news/national-and-world-news/southwest-cancels-more-flights-this-week-draws-federal-investigation/ Southwest Airlines cancels more flights this week, draws federal investigation

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