Southwest Struggles, Hitting SoCal with Mass Flight Cancellations

The Houston-based airline has cancelled 2/3 of its flights nationwide as it attempts to recover from winter storms. Pete Buttigieg is not amused.

Crippled by storms during the holidays, Southwest Airlines has gone into full meltdown, cancelling two-thirds of its flights nationwide and leaving thousands of passengers stranded around the country, according to the Wall Street Journal. Southern California and LAX were hit hard as well—according to the Los Angeles Times, as of Tuesday, hundreds of flights from the city have been “delayed or cancelled, leaving thousands of strangers stranded at the airport or seeking shelter.

Throughout Southern California, 18 outbound Southwest flights—two-thirds of its services— were canceled at Hollywood Burbank Airport on Tuesday, according to the flight tracker Flightview. In Orange County, John Wayne Airport saw 51 outbound Southwest flights canceled on Tuesday morning.

The day before, Monday, 106 Southwest flights had been cancelled at LAX, according to FlightAware, via ABC7. Almost every Southwest flight was cancelled at Hollywood Burbank.

The once celebrated budget airline plans on continuing to cancel flights until Thursday, reports the WSJ, and to operate its planes at only 1/3 capacity, a strategy Southwest is calling “rebalancing the airline,” according to the WSJ.

President Biden retweeted that statement on Tuesday, adding information about where customers could go to see if they were entitled to compensation.

The Transportation Department called Southwest’s amount of cancellations “disproportionate and unacceptable” on Monday and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg vowed that he would be holding the airline’s executives accountable for the growing holiday mess.

The airline’s spokesman, Jay McVay, blamed the fracas on the weather, claiming that nationwide blizzards and freezing cold temperatures had left its employees and airplanes nationwide storms and freezing cold temperature had left its planes and pilots in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“As the storm continued to sweep across the country, it continued to impact many of our larger stations and so the cancellations just compiled one after another to 100 to 150 to 1,000,” McVay said at a news conference in Houston on Monday night.

But appearing on CNN last night, Buttigieg pointed out that no other airline has experienced nearly as many cancellations, lost luggage and delays as Southwest has. “It’s clear that this airline needs to get its act together,” he said.

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