The adage “perfect storm” hardly captures the current state of affairs for Southwest Airlines, a company that has had to cancel more than 60% of its flights during the busy Christmas travel season as it struggles to get back on track following a devastating blizzard that blanketed much of the United States.
Southwest Airlines is not the only one to endure delays and cancellations, but it is by far the most severely affected. In the past two days, more than 5,500 Southwest flights have been cancelled across the nation as opposed to 311 cancellations for Delta, the second-most cancellations of any U.S. carrier.
According to analysts, a number of factors contributed to Southwest’s issues, including not just the extreme weather but also labour shortages brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and employees absent due to influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The most significant factor is an obsolete crew scheduling computer system that caused a complete meltdown during what should have been a minor storm.
In summary, Southwest has experienced every conceivable setback, including some of their own doing, according to Kyle Potter, executive editor of the travel website Thrifty Traveler. “At this time, we can confidently state that this disturbance is not connected to the weather. In spite of the fact that there have been mostly clear skies here for a few days,
only Southwest Airlines is doing so horribly. Congress is now paying attention to that failure. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s leader, Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, said in a statement on Tuesday that the panel would look into “the reasons of these delays and its impact on customers.”
Taylor McClain, a 34-year-old Southwest passenger, experienced a series of unfortunate events last Thursday when his early-morning trip from Salt Lake City to Chicago Midway was cancelled. He rescheduled for a 3 p.m. flight, but it didn’t leave until 9 p.m.
Southwest experiences a “full-blown collapse” and cancels 5,400 flights in less than 48 hours NATIONAL
Southwest experiences a “full-blown meltdown” and cancels 5,400 flights in less than 48 hours. McClain’s return to Utah has been even more terrifying. He had a late Monday departure time from Chicago. It was called off. Now, Thursday night is the earliest day he has been able to reschedule.
Although he is fortunate to be with his parents, “I will sacrifice several days of unanticipated vacation time and pay more kennel fees for four days in exchange for
puppy I’m unable to return to,” he says.
“It was terrible. It certainly was, says McClain, who also expresses sympathy for other Southwest travellers who are in far worse situations.
He claims to have flown Southwest for the past ten years, but he will wait to decide whether or not to do so until the corporation has made him whole.
The airline noted that because of the harsh weather, “daily alterations to our flight schedule have been necessitated at a volume and magnitude that nevertheless allow our personnel to recover the airline working at capacity.”
Southwest has to update those tools, which come in the form of internal software systems, according to Helane Becker, an aviation analyst at Cowen, an investment bank and financial services provider.
Not just their customer-facing systems, but also their personnel scheduling, among other things, according to Becker Southwest has a history of being technologically behind the curve.
Another important issue is Southwest’s strong preference for shorter, point-to-point flights over the “hub and spoke” business model used by several of its biggest rivals. It’s a system that has performed well in fair weather.
For instance, Atlanta serves as a major hub for Delta, while Chicago serves as a filter for many of United’s flights.
However, when it comes to Southwest, “their pilots fly to two, three, four, five, and six different cities after departing from one place in the morning. There is a crew change somewhere in there, after which it makes one or two additional cross-country flights and spends the night, according to Bangs. Because flight crews frequently aren’t located in the same location or don’t reside there, she says, “when you get a weather situation like this, you have all kinds of pilots and flight attendants that can no longer get to where they need to be.”
Therefore, everything tends to move out of place during bad weather.
Backfilling can therefore be a problem.
The vice president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, which represents the airline’s more than 10,000 pilots, Capt. Mike Santoro, claimed on CNN that the union was “weary of Southwest’s excuses. All the passengers have our deepest sympathies.”
Skyler Lenz, one of those travellers, resides in Denver with his wife and two small children. They were travelling to New York City to celebrate his daughter’s birthday and their wedding anniversary.
The family left on December 21 with plans to return on Christmas Eve. Lenz checked his phone app just before they left for the airport “to make sure everything was good.”
It was awful. The plane was grounded. He
The family flew out on the 21st, and planned to fly home on Christmas Eve. Just before they departed for the airport, Lenz checked his phone app “to make sure everything was good.”
It wasn’t good. The flight was canceled. He was on the phone for hours, but couldn’t reach an agent. So, he used an app on his phone to rebook — for Dec. 28. He finally reached an agent on Monday. He asked, “Do you think this is going to be resolved by the time we fly out?”
He was comforted by the agent, who even changed the flight to the 27th. He claims that everything thereafter began to be cancelled, including his Tuesday flight.
The 26-hour drive back to Denver was the final decision the family made. “There is a location in Illinois that is halfway there and is 13 hours away from both here and Denver. Therefore, our aim is to have a brief break at the hotel before picking up again so that we can arrive there Thursday night, adds Lenz.
Despite how poorly things have turned out for Southwest and its clients, according to Becker, the business has acknowledged its issues. They hold the lead from a PR standpoint, she claims. They claim to be purchasing meals.
They are housing individuals in hotel rooms. To bring you where you need to go, they are trying their best. They’re paying you back. They are purchasing tickets with different airlines.