After a large outage Southwest Airlines’ call centers are inundated with stranded customers. Southwest Airlines and its irate customers had migraine-inducing headaches on Monday as the aftermath of last week’s winter weather travel chaos continued to linger.
According to FlightAware’s flight tracking website, as of Monday at 4:10 p.m. ET, more than 3,600 flights inside, into, or out of the United States had been canceled, and almost 5,800 planes had been delayed.
However, a disproportionate number of those are due to Southwest. There is no other US airline that has canceled as many flights or as much of its schedule as Southwest has.
As of Monday at 4:10 pm, the Dallas-based airline had canceled around 2,700 flights or about two-thirds of its total. Around 300 planes were canceled in a half-hour period on Monday afternoon.
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Customers are venting their frustrations over the airline’s customer service department on social media, citing issues including extended wait times to speak to a person, misplaced luggage, and busy signals.
Problems with the entirety of our network.
In an email sent Monday afternoon, Southwest explained why so many flights had to be canceled:
Even though “severe winter weather across our network has subsided” for the time being, “continued issues” are “significantly unacceptably hurting our Customers and Employees,” the company said in a statement.
To best serve our future passengers, we are reorganizing the airline with Safety as our top priority and redistributing our crews and fleet.
After everything is through, we’ll do what we can to make up for everyone we’ve wronged, including our employees.
Southwest Airlines sent a statement to CNN on Monday saying the airline is “experiencing difficulties across our network as a result of (the winter storm’s) lingering effects on the totality of our business.”
The airports where Southwest has the most trouble are Denver International, Las Vegas McCarran International, Baltimore/Washington International, and Dallas Love Field.
“Stop blaming the WEATHER!” read a portion of one response. I took off on time, but only because I upgraded to first class on a different carrier. The medication we need is still in the suitcase you have. No one is picking up the phone!
Meanwhile, Buffalo International Airport in western New York said in a tweet that it aims to reopen for passenger flights on Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET.
Light snow was falling on top of the enormous amounts that had already been lost when we checked in at the airport at 4 p.m. ET; the temperature was 19 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 7 Celsius).
To what extent are passengers helpless while waiting for rescue?
If you’ve been abandoned and can’t get through to a representative, Scott from Scott’s Cheap Flights recommends calling from a different country.
Call the central hotline early to rebook a flight with a US airline because it will be swamped with other passengers trying to do the same thing. Scott Keyes advised calling any of the airline’s many overseas offices to speak with a representative as soon as possible.
Are there any rays of hope?
This may not be settled until early next week.
With over 10,000 flight cancellations in the past week, airlines need time to accommodate passengers. According to an email from Keyes to CNN Travel.
I anticipate things to have returned to normal by next week, but this will depend on the weather forecast (which looks favorable for much of the country) and the number of people canceling their holiday plans.
And what’s causing so many people problems with rebooking?
Having so few tickets available this season is “a problematic factor,” as Keyes put it, for those looking to be accommodated.
That’s because “Christmas and New Year is one of the busiest travel times of the year, and the number of flights on the schedule this year is still down 15-20%, making the struggle much higher for those wanting to get rebooked.”
Deplorable road conditions
In the United States, dangerous road conditions persisted due to the continued presence of severe winter weather.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz reported Monday that emergency driving restrictions had been lifted in parts of western New York’s Erie County but remained in effect in Buffalo.
While certain critical streets in Buffalo may have one or two lanes open for emergency vehicles, most secondary and minor streets have not been touched yet, according to Poloncarz.
He also mentioned that the primary purpose of the opened-up areas near hospitals and nursing homes is for life-saving measures.
It’s been a tough week.
Unfortunately for vacationers planning to fly for the Christmas holiday, a winter storm blew across the United States just as flight bookings were beginning to approach pre-pandemic levels.
According to FlightAware, 3,178 flights were canceled, and 6,870 were delayed on Christmas Day.
According to FlightAware, 3,487 flights were grounded worldwide on Christmas Eve.