Southwest Airlines under scrutiny as wave of flight cancellations continue at LAX, nationwide

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Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Passengers stranded across SoCal as Southwest Airlines woes continue
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Another round of cancellations from Southwest Airlines on Wednesday impacted hundreds of flights at Southern California airports, continuing a holiday travel mess that's stranded thousands of people nationwide.

Another round of cancellations from Southwest Airlines on Wednesday impacted hundreds of flights at Southern California airports, continuing a holiday travel mess that's stranded thousands of people nationwide.

The airline has canceled 62% of its scheduled flights for Wednesday nationwide. Hundreds of flights have been canceled across Southland airports, including 100 at LAX, according to FlightAware.

Stranded passengers were left with few alternatives, with the Southwest Airlines' website listing all flights departing from Southern California airports as "unavailable" through Saturday.

Some flights still departed from LAX, John Wayne Airport, Hollywood Burbank Airport and Long Beach Airport, but passengers were being urged to check flight schedules.

As of Wednesday morning, 93 flights had been canceled at John Wayne Airport, as were 82 from Burbank and 61 from Long Beach.

The airline issued an apology to stranded holiday travelers, stating that its operational challenges stem from last week's historic winter storm.

"With consecutive days of extreme winter weather across our network behind us, continuing challenges are impacting our customers and employees in a significant way that is unacceptable," according to a Southwest statement. "We're working with safety at the forefront to urgently address wide-scale disruption by rebalancing the airline and repositioning crews and our fleet ultimately to best serve all who plan to travel with us."

The airline added, "And our heartfelt apologies for this are just beginning."

Airline officials said Southwest was flying roughly one-third of its normally scheduled flights. In a video posted online Tuesday afternoon, Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan said that cadence would continue through the week as it works to reposition its crews and airplanes.

"We're doing everything we can to return to a normal operation," he said.

"... We always take care of our customers and we will lean in and go above and beyond as they would expect us to," he said. "... Our plan for the next few days is to fly a reduced schedule and reposition our people and planes, and we're making headway and we're optimistic of being back on track before next week. We have some real work to do in making this right."

Although the airline has continued to blame winter weather for the problems, some industry watchers have suggested that aging scheduling software played a major role in the delays.

Jordan again blamed the "bitter cold" for the problems, but also acknowledged that the airline needs to make improvements in its scheduling systems "so that we never again face what's happening right now."

Officials with the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a statement calling the Southwest situation "unacceptable."

"USDOT is concerned by Southwest's unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays and reports of lack of prompt customer service," the department stated. "The department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan."

Jordan said in his video that he has reached out to Buttigieg to discuss the steps the airline has taken to rectify the issues.

Southwest Airlines said it was fully staffed late last week and prepared for the approaching Christmas weekend when severe weather swept across the continent.

"On the other side of this, we'll work to make things right for those we've let down, including our employees," the airline stated.

Impacted travelers can find more information a southwest.com/traveldisruption.

City News Service contributed to this report.