Southwest Cancels Thousands of Flights, Leaves Passengers Stranded — What to Know

Some travelers may not reach their final destination before Friday.

Southwest cancellations continue across the country during a week of "operational challenges" for the airline, leaving thousands of passengers without a plan amid one of the busiest travel periods.

A Southwest Airlines airplane in flight

Stephen M. Keller/Courtesy of Southwest Airlines

Data from airline tracking site FlightAware shows that over 2,500 Southwest flights have already been canceled Wednesday morning — 60% of its schedule.

On its website, Southwest notes that passengers who are booked traveling through Jan. 2, 2023 can rebook for their same class ticket within 14 days of their original travel date. Passengers also have the opportunity to request a refund through an online form.

On Wednesday, Southwest CEO Bob Jordan issued a statement apologizing to their customers, offering an explanation for the disruption.

"After days of trying to operate as much of our full schedule across the busy holiday weekend, we reached a decision point to significantly reduce our flying to catch up," he said.

Jordan also noted that he's been in touch with Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has also spoken out on the issue.

“This has clearly crossed the line from what’s an uncontrollable weather situation to something that is the airline’s direct responsibility,” Buttigieg said Tuesday during an appearance on "NBC Nightly News." "They need to take care of their passengers and they need to take care of their employees."

The airline states that the reason for the mass delays is due to recovery from "operational challenges", which comes from a statement released by the airline on Monday. “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.”

The airlines also states that they were prepared for the busy holiday travel season, but due to the severe weather that stretched across the country they were forced to alter many of their plans. 

The Department of Transportation took to Twitter to voice their concerns over the mass amount of delays and cancellations caused by Southwest and noted that they will investigate whether such delays were controllable by the airline. 

Customers have been posting on social media to show the conditions of the current airport experience, with some videos showing Southwest employees telling passengers that they won’t be able to fly for the next four days on a Southwest flight.

This current Southwest Airlines round of cancellations comes at the tail of a holiday travel nightmare where a massive storm system canceled or delayed thousands of flights right before Christmas day.

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