We tried to prepare you for the travel tsunami that would likely occur during the holiday season…
…but even we didn’t see the massive Southwest Airlines meltdown that ended up leaving thousands of people stranded for days coming.
So what caused Southwest to cancel almost 16,000 flights since December 22, 2022 and ruin the lives of their passengers?
At first – they tried to blame it on the weather.
While there were winter storms over the holidays – other airlines had minimal cancelations and were able to ensure their passengers faced minimal disruptions.
So why did the “weather” affect Southwest Airlines to such a massive degree?
As it turns out, the real reason behind Southwest’s meltdown had to do with their archaic computer system…
… which depends on employees MANUALLY having to change and enter information when things go wrong due to cancelations.
“As extreme winter conditions swept much of the country last week — including important airports in Southwest’s network — Southwest’s plan for “irregular operations” passed the breaking point, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.
They and the airline itself described an internal process that requires multiple departments to manually redesign the airline’s schedule — a system that works “the vast majority of the time,” the airline said in a statement.
When something goes wrong, the Southwest software — including the crew scheduling system tool — leaves much of the work of rebuilding that delicate network to be done manually.”
And of course – multiple departments manually trying to fix flights and adjust is a recipe for disaster.
Pilots and airline staff were eager and ready to fly…
… but Southwest Airlines claims they “didn’t know where they were.”
Southwest CEO Bob Jordan apologized and tried to explain what caused the massive breakdown.
Fox Business reported:
“The tools we use to recover from disruption serve us well, 99 percent of the time,” he said. “But clearly, we need to double down on our already existing plans to upgrade systems for these extreme circumstances so that we never again face what’s happening right now.”
But all the apologies in the world didn’t change the reality of the travelers who had their lives disrupted due to the ineptness of Southwest.
From ruined holiday plans, lost medications (which is why you should ALWAYS pack your meds in your carry-on bag), to even missed weddings – the domino effect of Southwest’s failure has impacted the entire nation.
And for those who checked their bags…
… they’re finding themselves in a baggage “free for all” as photos surfaced all over social media showing piles and piles of baggage stacked at luggage carousels around the nation.
One passenger, Lisa, who ended up spending Christmas Day at the airport, told Proud American Traveler her personal experience while flying Southwest during the meltdown.
“It was an interesting Christmas flying from AUS to BWI. Had a wonderful Christmas Eve, followed by 16 hours of one minor fender bender, one canceled flight and I don’t know how many delays on Christmas Day. Bootsie, my French Bulldog, made lots of people happy at the airport and we made some friends from Morocco, Baltimore, Denver, and Austin.
An interesting day to celebrate Christmas at the airport instead of plans Christmas Day in Virginia.
We were desperate to get home, and some pastors called those who wanted to pray and 10 min later we got an announcement the missing staff from Southwest had finally showed up.
So thankful I had only a 2 hour and 47-minute flight back home… but then had to wait an additional 1.5 hours to retrieve my luggage. In total, it took 21 hours to complete my trip with all the delays and cancelations… when it should have only taken 6 hours between early check-in and the flight itself.”
Even the Biden administration was finally forced to comment on the fiasco…
… leading leaders from both parties to criticize how Transportation Secretary Pete Buttgigieg handled the crisis.
Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC) was vocal on her disapproval of the Biden administration’s slow response in dealing with Southwest.
The Daily Mail reported:
“’People are outraged,’ Mace told Fox & Friends on Wednesday morning, calling for action from the administration and Southwest airlines in particular to remedy the ongoing disaster.
She said that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttgigieg and the airlines need to be more swift and efficient in responding to these issues in the future.
‘It took four days and thousands and thousands of cancellations for DOT to finally speak up. Same thing, it took four days for the CEO of Southwest to finally speak up,’ Mace said. ‘I hope at some point the government when we are intervening and looking at some of these issues that we are more efficient and more effective.’”
We’ve long bashed Southwest Airlines as one of the worst airlines ever – and our disdain for them has only grown.
Our hearts go out to all the travelers who had their holiday plans ruined by such an inept airline.
If you’ve been impacted by this meltdown – don’t give up in forcing them to reimburse your expenses!
Were you impacted by the Southwest fiasco?
If so, we’d love for you to share your experience!
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