Major U.S. airlines were severely impacted by the weekend winter storm that swept vast portions of the nation, but all but one had recovered by Monday.
After the brunt of the storm passed, issues at Southwest Airlines seemed to become worse.
More than 70% of its flights were canceled on Monday and more than 60% on Tuesday, and the airline warned that it would only run about a third of its regular schedule in the coming days to give workers time to fly back to their destinations.
By Tuesday, American, United, Delta, and JetBlue had cancellation rates ranging from 0% to 2%.
The discrepancy has led the U.S. to investigate more closely at Southwest operations.
The Department of Transportation wanted to ensure the Dallas carrier was upholding its commitments to stranded passengers and referred to the cancellation rate as “disproportionate and unsatisfactory.”
The storm’s size and ferocity caused significant problems for airlines.
Drifts and heavy snowfall swamped airports.
Up to 20% of flights were canceled by airlines on Saturday and Sunday, while the nearby Buffalo Niagara International Airport is still closed as of Tuesday.
However, it is now evident that Southwest is experiencing an excessive disturbance.
Southwest was responsible for 2,522 of the 2,890 flight cancellations in the United States early on Tuesday.
At a news conference in Houston, Southwest spokesperson Jay McVay stated that cancellations increased as storm systems moved across the nation, leaving flight crews and aircraft out of place.
We have thus been scrambling to catch up and return to routine safely, which is our first concern, as soon as possible, he said.
And that is precisely how we arrived at our current situation.
Long lineups of passengers waited to rebook their flights.
In a tweet, the Department of Transportation stated that it was “concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service” and that it would investigate whether the airline could have done anything to prevent the cancellations as well as whether it was adhering to its customer service policy.
Bryce Burger and his family were scheduled to board a cruise to Mexico on December 24 from San Diego, but their flight from Denver was abruptly canceled, he claimed on Tuesday.
The trip was rescheduled to go through Burbank, California, but that flight was canceled as they were waiting at the gate.
“Like how Christmas stinks for my kids. Burger, calling from Salt Lake, where the family had elected to travel instead of taking the cruise, said, “It’s dreadful.
Burger is unsure if he can obtain a refund for the cruise because the ticket to California was booked separately, and the family’s luggage is still at the Denver airport.
According to his call logs, Burger made numerous failed calls to Southwest over two days.
He sent a tweet, and the business replied. He claimed they gave each member of his family a $250 voucher.
To give crews enough time to return to their destinations, Southwest CEO Bob Jordan told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that the airline would run slightly more than a third of its typical timetable.
We had a challenging day today. We’ll probably have another hard day tomorrow as we try to get out of this,” he remarked on Monday night.
“This is the biggest incident I’ve ever seen,” the witness declared.