Southwest Airlines outage leaves customers stranded, call centers sink

Southwest Airlines outage leaves customers stranded, call centers sink
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(CNN) — Last week’s winter weather travel mess continues this week like a severe hangover—and the headaches are commensurate with migraines for Southwest Airlines, CEO Bob Jordan, and most importantly. Frustrated travelers on Monday.

According to the flight-tracking website, nearly 3,700 flights within, into or out of the US were canceled by 5:20 pm ET on Monday. FlightAwareWith more than 6,400 flights delayed.

The Southwest, however, gets a large share of them. No other US carrier has canceled as many flights or as many of its schedules as Southwest.

The Dallas-based airline had canceled nearly two-thirds of its flights – more than 2,700 in total – as of 5:20 p.m. Monday. According to FlightAware.

At one point, it canceled nearly 300 flights in half an hour Monday afternoon.

CEO: “There are many problems with the operation”

On Christmas night, before Monday’s meltdown, Jordan told employees that the airline had “many problems in operation right now.”

CNN provided a transcript of the message to Southwest employees by an aviation source.

Jordan told employees, “Part of our gripe is the lack of tools. We’ve talked a lot about the need to modernize the operation and do that.

Customers complain loudly on social media long queues to talk to representatives, problems with lost luggage and excessive waiting times, or busy signals on airline customer service phone lines.

Customers await rebooking Southwest Airlines flights at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Monday.

Customers await rebooking Southwest Airlines flights at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Monday.


CNN’s Carlos Suarez spoke to disappointed passengers waiting in line at the Southwest ticket office at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Monday.

He reported that around 150 customers were waiting in a long queue to rebook at one point, and the queue was curling up behind the ticket office.

‘outages in our network’

Southwest responded to the major cancellations with a statement emailed Monday afternoon:

“As we leave behind consecutive days of extreme winter weather across our network, the ongoing challenges are impacting our Customers and Employees in an unacceptably significant way,” the statement said.

We are at the forefront with Security to urgently address large-scale outages. … On the other hand, we will work to rectify the situation of those we let down, including our employees.”

Southwest Airlines said in an earlier statement to CNN on Monday that it “has experienced outages across our network as a result of the lasting effects of the[winter storm]on our entire operation.”

Some of the airports experiencing the biggest problems are Denver, Las Vegas, Chicago Midway, Baltimore/Washington, Dallas Love Field and Phoenix Sky Harbor.

Customers encountered long queues at Southwest counters at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Monday.

Customers encountered long queues at Southwest counters at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Monday.


Calls by CNN to Southwest’s customer service did not result, so customers could not even queue to speak to a representative. Southwest told CNN it was “fully staffed to answer calls.”

The airline also says that “those whose flights have been canceled can request a full refund or receive a flight credit that does not expire.”

AND chirp It received more than 870 responses from Southwest directing customers to self-service options—many angry—around 4:30 p.m. ET.

One of the responses was, in part: “STOP blaming the weather! I had to buy a first-class ticket from another airline, but it DELIVERED ON TIME! You still have our suitcase with medicine! Can’t reach you by phone!”

Ripple effects in the southwest

“We need to be able to come up with solutions faster,” Jordan said in a message to employees Sunday night. He said the airline was “decisive and invested” in improving its systems.

The head of the association representing Southwest’s flight attendants told CNN’s Pamela Brown in an interview Monday that these systems put their members in a difficult position.

Lyn Montgomery said, “The company’s phone system is down. They don’t have enough manpower for flight attendants to make schedule changes, and it has had a ripple effect that has created chaos across the country.” The head of TWU Local 556 told CNN.

Some flight attendants have to sleep at airports as a result, Montgomery said.

Also in a live-stream interview, FlightAware spokesperson Kathleen Bangs said there are shorter flights with shorter turnaround times that are causing some problems with Southwest’s schedule. “These turnaround times make things difficult,” Bangs said.

CNN reached out to the airline to comment on Jordan’s video message.

What can stranded passengers do?

If you’ve been let down and your efforts to reach out to a customer service representative are going nowhere, the founder Scott’s Cheap Flights recommends trying an international number.

“The main helpline for US airlines will be clogged with other passengers rebooking. Call any of the airline’s dozens of international offices to get an agent quickly,” said Scott Keyes.

“Agents can handle your reservation just like US-based agents, but there’s almost no wait to get through.”

Is there any relief in sight?

It may take the next week for all of this to fully resolve.

“With more than 10,000 flight cancellations in the last week, it takes time for airlines to complete and reorganize their passenger backlog,” Keyes told CNN Travel in an email.

“While it depends on the weather forecast (which looks promising for most of the country) and how many travelers cancel their vacation plans, I expect everything to be largely back to normal by next week,” Keyes said. aforementioned.

And why are so many people having trouble rebooking?

“A complicating factor for people hoping to refit is the fact that there are very few empty seats this season,” Keyes said.

“This is because both Christmas and New Year’s are one of the most popular times of the year to travel, and the number of flights on the schedule is still down by 15-20% this year, making the challenge even harder for those looking to rebook.” “

Buffalo still stumbles

Meanwhile, in hard-hit western New York, Buffalo International Airport said in its latest tweet that it plans to resume passenger flights at 11am ET on Tuesday.

The temperature at the airport was around 19 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 7 Celsius) around 4:00 pm ET, with light snow falling over the large amounts the area had already seen.

And it’s not just the airport that is affected there. Road travel continued to be dangerous due to extreme winter conditions.

In Erie County in western New York state, emergency driving restrictions have been lifted in some communities, but Stayed in place in BuffaloCounty Administrator Mark Poloncarz said on Monday.

“While the City of Buffalo is impassable in most areas, a lane or two may be open for emergency traffic on the main street, most of the secondary roads and alleys are yet to be touched,” Poloncarz said.

He added that the main roads cleared are primarily for the use of life-saving measures to open up areas around hospitals and nursing homes.

a tough week

A winter storm swept through the US was bad timing for travelers, who were starting to push their Christmas week flight numbers back to pre-pandemic levels.

According to FlightAware, 3,178 flights were canceled and 6,870 flights were delayed on Christmas Day.

A total of 3,487 flights were canceled on Christmas Eve, according to FlightAware.

Friday was the worst day of the series with 5,934 cancellations, while Thursday saw around 2,700 cancellations.

This mega burst of winter weather in the eastern two-thirds of the country is expected to gradually ease this week.

There will be more developments regarding this breaking news.

CNN’s Ross Levitt, Chris Boyette, and Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this story.

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