Southwest’s Huge Flight Cancelation Issues Continue

Southwest’s widespread cancelations have spilled into Monday as the airline struggles with schedules. While the situation has improved since Sunday, which saw three in ten flights canceled, Monday is currently seeing one in ten flights axed. In total, the airline has canceled 2,000 flights this long weekend, leaving thousands frustrated. Let’s find out why.

Southwest’s Huge Flight Cancelation Issues Continue
Southwest is struggling with staffing shortages across the carrier and has been hit with more issues this week. Photo: Southwest Airlines

Struggles continue

Southwest has been battling a storm since Saturday. What was meant to be a busy weekend due to a federal holiday on Monday has turned into a crisis for the airline, with thousands of flights canceled in three days. However, today is not proving to be a day of recovery for the airline, with CNN reporting that the carrier has canceled one in 10 flights at the time of writing, according to FlightAware. As of 11:37 AM ET, 337 flights have been canceled.

Southwest has blamed several factors for the sudden issues with scheduling. These have included bad weather, air traffic control issues, and limited staffing in key states like Florida. The FAA has stated that there have been no ATC-related issues since Friday. While bad weather might be affecting flights, the primary reasons remain a lack of crews and staffers on the ground.

Southwest’s Huge Flight Cancelation Issues Continue
After cutting schedules and staffing during the pandemic, the sudden ramp-up has been affecting Southwest’s operations. Photo: Southwest Airlines

Meanwhile, other airlines are not facing similar issues this weekend. American and Spirit Airlines both had only around 2% of their flights canceled this weekend, far below the approximately 30% for Southwest.

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Challenging recovery

While the Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day weekend may have been hard for Southwest, these issues could linger on. In a statement, the airline said that getting back to normal could be “more difficult and prolonged” and added that,

“We’ve continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and crews repositioned to take care of our customers.”

Southwest B737
This isn’t the first time this year that Southwest has faced crew shortages since travel bounced back. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Fixing a staffing shortage will take months, which is part of the reason Southwest has scaled back schedules until 2022. The airline is trying hard to hire new staffers across the customer-facing segment, even offering incentives for successful referrals from current employees. However, this does little to solve today’s and the coming weeks’ woes.

Changes

The cancelations come just days after Southwest became the latest airline to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for its entire workforce. This put the carrier in line with other major airlines like United, American, JetBlue, and Alaska. Indeed, Delta is now the last major airline still mulling whether to pull the trigger on mandatory vaccines.

Cabin crew, pilots, and ground handling unions have also been complaining about operations since this summer. For now, Southwest Airlines is trying its best to lighten the load on its employees and add new ones as quickly as possible. How long things will take to stabilize remains to be seen. However, with Thanksgiving and Christmas all coming soon, there’s a lot on the line.

What do you think about Southwests’ current staffing troubles? Have you been affected? Let us know in the comments.

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