HomeBusinessAs Southwest flight cancellations continue, Buttigieg vows to hold airline accountable

As Southwest flight cancellations continue, Buttigieg vows to hold airline accountable

(CNN) — Relief for passengers booked on Southwest Airlines this week is still days away as the beleaguered airline continues to grapple with what U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg called a complete system meltdown. .

As of 11:30 a.m. ET, there have already been 2,798 cancellations for flights to and from the US on Wednesday, of which approximately 2,508. One of them is operated by Southwest, according to the flight tracking website. flight aware.

In total, Southwest Airlines has canceled about 15,700 flights since winter weather began disrupting air travel on December 22nd. This figure includes more than 2,300 flights already canceled on Thursday.

Other US airlines have since recovered from the disruption caused by the storm.

In fact, American Airlines and United Airlines Maximum price Some routes operated by Southwest Airlines will make flights more accessible for stranded passengers.

Southwest Airlines does not have interline agreements with other airlines that allow agents to rebook passengers on another airline, and travelers are responsible for considering other options.

Denver International Airport leads the way in cancellations on Wednesday, with heavy cancellations at Chicago Midway Airport, Baltimore Washington Airport, Nashville International Airport and Dallas Love Field Airport.

Southwest Airlines plans to fly a reduced schedule over the next few days due to changes in crew and plane deployments, airline CEO Bob Jordan said late Tuesday when the airline said it would In a video he released, Jordan said, “I’m optimistic that we’ll be back on track by next week.

Buttigieg says he spoke directly with Jordan on Tuesday about the thousands of flights that have been canceled this week.

“Their system has completely collapsed,” Buttigieg told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday.

“Our department has made it clear that we will hold them accountable for their responsibilities to customers in order to work through this situation and ensure it does not happen again.”

Those responsibilities include providing meal tickets and hotel accommodations to passengers whose flights were interrupted “as a result of the decisions and actions of Southwest Airlines,” a Department of Transportation spokeswoman said on Tuesday. Stated.

U.S. airlines must also offer cash refunds to passengers whose flights have been canceled and who choose not to travel, the DOT said.

Tuesday overview

CNN’s Carlos Suarez reports from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. At this airport, travelers are braving long lines and flight cancellations after a massive winter storm hits the United States.

According to FlightAware, more than 3,200 flights inside and outside the US were canceled on Tuesday.

About 2,694 of the canceled flights were with Southwest Airlines, accounting for 84% of all canceled flights in the US.

The pile of unclaimed bags continues to grow as passengers struggled to retrieve their bags at airports such as Chicago’s Midway International Airport and Russ’ Harry Reid, while multiple airports in the Southwest of the United States on Tuesday. ticket counters witnessed long lines of travelers trying to rebook or connect.William P. Hobby Airport in Las Vegas and Houston

Passenger Trisha Jones told CNN at the Atlanta airport that she and her partner had been traveling for five days trying to return to Wichita, Kansas after getting off a cruise in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

After her flight was canceled, she stayed at a relative’s house, then rerouted to Atlanta to catch a connecting flight.

“We were lucky because we were in Fort Lauderdale. My family lives in the Tampa Bay Area, so we were able to rent a car to visit them over Christmas,” Jones said. said. “I’ve seen so many families sleeping on the floor and it breaks my heart.”

Buttigieg: ‘We have a lot to do’

Hundreds of bags remain unclaimed at Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) on December 28th.

Jim Law Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Southwest Airlines attributed the travel disaster to several factors, including winter storm delays, aggressive flight schedules and outdated infrastructure.

“As far as I know, Southwest Airlines has not been able to locate the passengers, baggage, or even the crew.”

A secretary told Jordan that he expects Southwest to proactively provide refunds and cost reimbursements without asking affected passengers.

“I have communicated to the CEO our expectation that they will take better care of their passengers and work harder than ever to address this.

Buttigieg told CNN that the Department of Transportation was prepared to fine Southwest Airlines if there was evidence that the company failed to meet its legal obligations. It added that it was looking into the customer service issue that had occurred.

“Every other part of the aviation system is recovering and improving day by day, but it’s actually going in the opposite direction with this airline,” Buttigieg said.

“We have a company here that has a lot of work to do,” he said.

Southwest CEO apologizes in video

Jordan apologized to passengers and employees video Released Tuesday night.

Jordan said, “We are doing everything we can to return to normal operations, but please also hear that we are truly sorry.

He said the airline had decided to “significantly reduce flights to catch up” with a large number of planes and crews “losing their positions” in dozens of cities.

Jordan admitted he had issues with the company’s response, but the statement suggested he didn’t foresee major changes to Southwest’s operational plans in response to the mass cancellations.

“The tools you use to recover from chaos will help you 99% of the time, but to avoid facing what’s happening now again, you need to revoke your existing plans to upgrade your systems for these extreme situations. It’s clear that we need to double down,” Jordan said.

Is there anything the passenger can do?

Katie Nastro, Scott’s cheap flights spokesperson, tells us what to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled.

Southwest warns that this week’s cancellations and delays are expected to continue for several more days.

So what should the customer do?

“First and foremost, travelers who are still stuck in the Southwest and need to go somewhere should book a flight with another airline as soon as possible…now really,” travel advice said. Kyle Potter, Editor-in-Chief, said the website thrifty traveler, By email to CNN Travel late Tuesday afternoon.

“Right now, every airline in the country is so crowded that the chances of finding a seat, even at half the price, are getting smaller by the hour,” said Potter.

“Travelers in this situation should make sure to keep receipts for all other flights, rental cars, hotel stays, meals, etc.,” Potter said.

If you get stuck and your efforts to contact a customer service agent go nowhere, Founder of Cheap flights to Scott We recommend trying an international number.

“Primary hotlines for U.S. airlines will be congested with rebooking other passengers. To reach an agent immediately, call any of the airline’s dozens of international offices. said Scott Keyes. These agents can handle US-based reservations, Keyes said.

click here Get an international phone number previously posted by Southwest.

Southwest: “Keep your receipt”

After their flight was cancelled, 13 strangers decided to rent a van and drive from Orlando to Knoxville, Tennessee.

Southwest Airlines spokesperson Jay McVay said at a press conference Monday night at Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport that the airline will do everything possible to rectify the challenges passengers have experienced. rice field. Please help these people get home as soon as possible. ”

He promised to accommodate all customers, including those who have already left the airport or who have made separate arrangements themselves.

“If you’ve already left home, take care of yourself, do what’s necessary for your family, and keep your receipts,” McVay said. It doesn’t matter.”

What’s Wrong From a Pilot’s Perspective

Passengers search for their luggage at Hollywood Burbank Airport in California on Tuesday.

Passengers search for their luggage at Hollywood Burbank Airport in California on Tuesday.

Robin Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Captain Mike Santoro, vice president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, told CNN on Tuesday, Problems facing the Southwest It was the worst disruption he has had in his 16 years with an airline.

He explained that last week’s storm was the catalyst that triggered the major technical issues.

“What hasn’t worked is that our IT infrastructure for scheduling software is significantly outdated,” he said. “Complex route networks cannot handle the number of pilots and flight attendants in the system.

“We don’t have a regular hub like other big airlines do. We operate a point-to-point network, so crew can be misplaced even without planes.”

“It is frustrating for pilots, flight attendants and especially our passengers. They really do.”

CNN’s Gregory Wallace, Andy Rose, Andi Babineau, Adrienne Broaddus, Dave Alsap, Nick Valencia, David Goldman, Leslie Perrot, Carlos Suarez, and Ross Levitt contributed to this article.



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