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Southwest continues to cancel flights, leaving thousands stranded

Dec 28, 2022, 9:30 PM
Operating system issues and a lack of cooperation with other airlines are largely to blame for Sout...
Baggage waits to be claimed after canceled flights at the Southwest Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday, Dec. 26, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)
(AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)

SALT LAKE CITY — Southwest Airlines is still canceling flights even after the major winter storms have passed. Operating system issues and a lack of cooperation with other airlines are largely to blame.

“One of the most difficult things with Southwest is that there are no baggage agreements, [and] there are no airline agreements,” said International travel specialist Doug Wren.

Therefore, the airline is unable to book passengers on other companies’ flights when they cancel their own. 

This policy is in place to keep ticket prices low. That said, it has caused major customer service problems with the continuing cancelations. 

Also, the airline operates on a separate, out-of-date system rather than a more updated one. Other major airlines use systems such as Sabre or Amadeus.

The older system caused confusion as pilots and flight attendants tried to figure out where to go as flights were canceled, creating a ripple effect with staffing shortages.

Wren said the system is “fine when things go well… but the ‘perfect storm’ hitting on the east coast and west coast just debilitated them.” 

The Transport Workers Union Local 556, flight attendants at Southwest, have called for a technology update to their system for years.

As of Wednesday, the company canceled more than 15,000 flights, which accounts for over 60% of their scheduled flights.

Officials in Washington are discussing creating federal rules which would require airlines to compensate customers for canceled or delayed flights.

“Ultimately the passenger is going to pay for it during regular service… it’s less money for the shareholders, and the only way to make that up is with higher priced ticket prices, ” said Wren.

While it’s difficult to determine exactly what adjustments Southwest will make to its company, experts agree that changes need to be made.

“We have some real work to do in making this right… I want you to know we’re committed to that,” Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said.

Southwest created a website for customers to rebook flights without paying additional charges or to request refunds for canceled flights.

Additionally, they allow passengers to submit receipts for any additional incurred expenses due to canceled flights between Dec. 24, 2022, and Jan. 2, 2023, for possible reimbursement. 

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Southwest continues to cancel flights, leaving thousands stranded