Widespread cancellations by Southwest Airlines disrupted vacation plans across the country, stranding passengers and wreaking havoc at some airports.
The airline cited extreme weather in many parts of the country as the reason, adding in a statement, “Our sincere apologies for this is just beginning… We recognize that we have fallen short and we sincerely apologize.”
Southwest did not disclose how many flights were cut. However, many media outlets and airlines said about two-thirds of the fighting was cancelled. Flightware website put the number at more than 2,800.
The US Department of Transportation said Monday it was “concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays and reports of a lack of prompt customer service.” The Department will review whether cancellations were manageable and whether Southwest is adhering to its customer service plan.”
Frustrated flyers, including those at LAX, reported hours of queues, lost luggage and unmanned flights after most Southwest routes were canceled or delayed – with some saying not to expect a flight home for days.
Those on interstate flights looked to rental cars, opting for long drives rather than waiting at the airport.
What was supposed to be an hour-and-a-half flight from Sacramento to Los Angeles for Matt Grippi on Monday turned into a six-hour drive. He was in a hurry to catch an international flight scheduled for Tuesday and didn’t trust Southwest to get him to LAX in time.
His only options are layovers of up to 26 hours, which would cost thousands of dollars, he said.
“Every single possible flight I could have taken today to get home has been cancelled,” Grippi said. “Communications from the Southwest have been appalling. I’m not sure I can ever trust them again.”
In a statement Monday, Southwest Airlines pointed to “extreme winter weather” across the country and called the disruption “unacceptable.”
The company said it was working to reposition flight crews to “return to normal reliability” but signaled flights could continue to change over the New Year holidays.
“On the other hand, we will work to make things right for those we have let down, including our employees,” the company said.
said Mike Bolen in a tweet that his flight at Oakland International Airport was canceled due to lack of crew and called the situation a “total collapse”.
“I fly a lot and have never seen anything like this. Every flight is cancelled/delayed,” he said.
Twitter user Maria Wiles said she waited eight hours at San Francisco International Airport only to find out her flight was canceled after she got there at 5:30 a.m. Monday.
Maya Polon was one of the few Southwest customers to make it out of Hollywood Burbank Airport on Monday after her original flight on Sunday was canceled twice. She spent three hours at the airport trying to catch a new flight after the Southwest website and app failed.
“The only way to get rebooked was to go to the airport and talk to a human,” said Polon, 28.
Meanwhile, her mother, Emily Payne, was on hold with Southwest for four hours trying to help her. Polon successfully got a flight back to Sacramento by 2 p.m., but some of her fellow hopefuls were told they wouldn’t be able to get a flight home until at least Wednesday, she said. Polon said people at the scene were angry and police were involved in an altercation between a passenger and Southwest employees.