If you’re planning to travel today or within the next few days, there are some critical updates you need to know about.
An arctic blast has been making its way across the United States, bringing low temperatures to Florida and lots of snow and severe weather to other parts of the U.S. The weather, coupled with lingering staffing issues and potentially other problems, led to the delay and cancelation of many flights ahead of the holiday weekend, throughout the weekend, and into Monday. And one airline, in particular, is struggling to recover.
According to CNBC, airlines have canceled more than 17,000 U.S. flights since Wednesday. While many airlines have started to recover from the severe weather-related issues, Southwest Airlines is still struggling and is leaving many stranded after the holidays.
In fact, according to data from FlightAware, Southwest canceled a staggering 67% of their flights today alone. In terms of total cancelations for all airlines, over 3,000 flights within, into, or out of the U.S. were canceled today, while over 6,000 were delayed.
So what is impacting these flights? Well, weather, as we mentioned before, is one of the major factors. Ice, snow, and high winds complicated air travel around the country. That slowed down the flight crews. In some places, temperatures were so low that equipment was impacted — pilots even encountered frozen locks when trying to re-enter jet bridges.
But as other airlines started to recover on Monday, Southwest’s problems continued. Compare Southwest to Delta and you can see a big difference. On Monday, Delta only canceled around 9% of its flights. Though it did have more delays at 22% compared to Southwest’s 18%.
Now, that’s not to say other airlines haven’t experienced issues. While some flights have taken off and arrived on time, lost luggage has become a problem for some travelers. But Southwest’s cancelations have completely outnumbered other airlines (at least as it relates to Monday cancelations).
What’s going on at Southwest specifically? According to CNBC, some of those cancelations are proactive. The airline is canceling some in an effort to “stabilize its operation,” per COO Andrew Watterson.
But the issues won’t be fixed immediately. Southwest’s CEO Bob Jordan shared that it could take a few more days to get the airline’s operation fixed. According to Jordan, part of the problem is that they’re suffering from a “lack of tools.”
He said, “We’ve talked an awful lot about modernizing the operation, and the need to do that. And Crew Scheduling is one of the places that we need to invest in. We need to be able to produce solutions faster.”
WESH 2 News reports that Southwest Airlines also shared that it was “experiencing disruptions across [its] network as a result of (the winter storm’s) lingering effects on the totality of [its] operation.”
Aviation expert Steve Cosgrove told WFAA 8 ABC that Southwest tends to run a tight schedule, which also makes delays (even small ones) a bigger issue. Plus, there is a lingering shortage of pilots and staff, coupled with limitations on how long pilots can fly before they are “timed out.”
One of our own DFB team members was witness to certain issues with Southwest. While they were at the Houston airport, many Southwest flights were canceled.
If your flight (Southwest or otherwise) ends up canceled or delayed, be sure to visit the U.S. Department of Transportation’s airline customer service dashboard. This dashboard shows what commitments airlines have made when there are controllable cancelations or delays. By reviewing this, you’ll know what compensation you’re entitled to.
Keep an eye out for updates on the airline’s dedicated app and see if you can rebook faster/easier through that. If you are wondering what to do if your flight to Disney World is canceled specifically as it relates to Disney World policies, click here.
If you can, try to only pack carry-on items so you can rebook with ease and not worry about luggage. And consider placing an AirTag in your suitcases so you can track them.
We’ll continue to look for more updates. Stay safe out there and stay tuned for more updates.
Click here to see what to pack for Disney World during this cold weather
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