When you’re trending on Twitter, sometimes it can be a good thing but more often than not, it’s for not-so-great reasons (as yours truly learned the hard way a few years ago).
In the case of Southwest Airlines, they’ve trended on Twitter off and on for much of the last 24 hours or so due to significant travel delays over the Christmas holidays that appear to have impacted their flights more so than the other major airlines.
While cancellations and delays are normal this time of the year, what’s happened at Southwest since at least Friday shows problems on a scale not often seen. All total, as of this writing over 2,700 Southwest flights have been canceled, with over 750 delayed – and this is just for Monday. Officials with the airline are blaming the weather and the “unique” positioning of some of the airline’s hubs as it relates to the arctic blast that has swept much of the country:
Nationwide, 2,677 Southwest flights have been canceled, which is about 66% of the airline’s flights, and 734 have been delayed as of 2 p.m.
On Friday, a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said in a statement that more than half of the airports where they operate in the continental U.S. fell under duress from the strong Arctic storm that swept through the U.S., and “Southwest has been uniquely effected given our size and structure.”
“As it remains a very dynamic situation, we don’t have specific numbers to share on flight disruptions, but the storms have forced hundreds of cancellations throughout our network,” a spokesperson wrote Friday. “We appreciate our Customers’ patience and apologize for inconveniences as we work to get them to their destinations as quickly and safely as possible this holiday.”
I spoke with a source Monday who told me the story of the trouble their son had getting home for Christmas thanks to all the Southwest delays:
“My son’s SouthWest flight was on the 24th out of Denver. He was forced to wait 7 hours, then they canceled it. Got him an early morning flight on Christmas–which they quietly canceled in the middle of the night. Finally was able to get him on a United flight to Ontario, which is over an hour from here. We spent many hours on the phone and hundreds in Ubers (because he had to go back and forth from DIA).”
Fortunately, the son never got his bag checked, which would have meant an additional several hours needing to be spent at the airport with tensions understandably running high.
Though Southwest is pinning the bulk of their problems on the weather, staffing shortages are also being noted at individual airports.
To get a good feel for what’s been going on at some of the nation’s busiest airports, check out these video clips.
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport:
Air travel issues continue, but now in our area they’re largely related to one airline, Southwest. Video sent by a viewer of our sister station in Baltimore shows BWI Marshall, where Southwest has nearly 200 canceled flights today. 32 Southwest flights canceled at DCA, 10@ Dulles pic.twitter.com/tgurnJzwOX
— Tom Roussey (@tomroussey7news) December 26, 2022
Reagan National Airport:
Here is the scene at Reagan National Airport in the Southwest Airlines area. One woman just told me she’s been here since 4 AM and just learned she will not be flying anywhere today. It’s a mess. #aviation pic.twitter.com/IqHsIgrLmk
— Tom Roussey (@tomroussey7news) December 26, 2022
Denver International Airport:
The current line for cancellations/rescheduling at Southwest Airlines counter at DIA. 😮 pic.twitter.com/wtrzu6qYcy
— Jeremiah Bellile (@miahbellile) December 26, 2022
This is baggage claim at @DENAirport. Customers of @SouthwestAir say line to rebook is 3+ hours long. Some have been stranded for days, unable to get a rental car or hotel. Via FlightAware: 376 cancelled Southwest flights at DEN. The next most is United with 22 cancellations. pic.twitter.com/7fzeSnnYUo
— Courtney Yuen (@courtyuen) December 26, 2022
Oakland International Airport:
Total collapse of Southwest Airlines in Oakland, California. I fly a lot and never seen anything like this. Every flight is cancelled/“delayed”. My flight to Phoenix was canceled because “the crew didn’t show up” pic.twitter.com/rJxbnyCf7w
— Mike Bolen | Real Estate Investor (@mikebolen) December 26, 2022
San Francisco International Airport:
The holiday storm is still snarling air traffic across the country. Southwest Airlines has been hit particularly hard by cancellations across its system, even declaring an operational state of emergency in Denver this weekend. This is the SWA line at SFO now. pic.twitter.com/z4ZdD7KfXY
— Sergio Quintana (@svqjournalist) December 26, 2022
Phoenix Sky Harbor, which is a major hub for Southwest Airlines:
Here is the video of the intercom announcement.
Speaker says staffing issues have led to the cancelation of 90% of Sky Harbor Southwest flights. They say they cannot get anyone out for the next 4 days. https://t.co/eULewj44Zm pic.twitter.com/fnlay8sBw5
— Michael Doudna (@MichaelDoudna) December 26, 2022
Tampa International Airport:
It’s a bag blizzard at Tampa Intl
With so many canceled flights – especially Southwest – hundreds if not thousands of bags are stranded
Passengers have told us these are bags from flights that were canceled or from connection flights that never took off
Absolute nightmare pic.twitter.com/bKMz9Edzoa
— Evan Axelbank Fox13 (@EvanAxelbank) December 26, 2022
Something to keep in mind if you’re among those impacted by these issues to is to try and keep your emotions in check when dealing with Southwest staff.
“Please be kind to airline agents,” KVUE’s Ford Sanders advised viewers and readers. “At the end of the day, Southwest as a whole is who canceled my flight with no explanation. I watched multiple agents today in tears after how customers treated them. They are here to help, and I’m so grateful to them.”
I always feel for airline employees and those who have to travel long distances to get to their destinations around the holidays. It’s a very stressful and trying time because the employees just want to help people and the travelers are eager to get to their families and friends. But the delays and cancellations inevitably happen, leaving no one happy.
To see an updated list of all flight delays and cancellations (and not just Southwest’s) click here. If you or a loved one are traveling on Southwest, check here for the latest information and to find out what your options are.
Better yet, might want to listen to “Thrifty Traveler” editor Kyle Potter.
“This is a full-blown meltdown. If you’re flying Southwest this week, I’d encourage you to look into alternatives ASAP,” he tweeted in response to the numerous reports about the nationwide issues with Southwest’s flights.
The man has a point.