Thousands of travelers remain stranded across the country with the number of canceled Southwest flights reaching more than 2,000 on Monday alone.
The Dallas-based carrier canceled more flights Monday evening bringing to 71 percent the number of its scheduled flights canceled for the day as a result of winter weather, according to flight tracker FlightAware. Southwest has been hit harder than any other airline with more than 10,700 flights canceled in total.
Another 667 flights were delayed, leaving customers waiting around, often for hours, in busy airports. A day prior, on Sunday, the airline canceled more than 1,600 flights.
Passengers whose flights were canceled were later notified that they would not be able to rebook on Southwest Airlines until Saturday, Dec. 31, or after, according to multiple reports.
In a statement, the airline blamed the severe weather events on the cancellations, noting that it was fully staffed and “prepared” for the busy holiday travel week.
“Our heartfelt apologies for this are just beginning,” the airline said. “We’re working with safety at the forefront to urgently address wide-scale disruption by rebalancing the airline and repositioning crews and our fleet ultimately to best serve all who plan to travel with us.”
The airline added that the winter blizzard had “forced daily changes to our flight schedule at a volume and magnitude that still has the tools our teams use to recover the airline operating at capacity.”
New Year to See Reduced Flights
“This safety-first work is intentional, ongoing, and necessary to return to normal reliability, one that minimizes last-minute inconveniences. We anticipate additional changes with an already reduced level of flights as we approach the coming New Year holiday travel period. And we’re working to reach to Customers whose travel plans will change with specific information and their available options,” Southwest said.
The airline also vowed to “work to make things right for those we’ve let down, including our employees.”
However, Southwest Airlines also began canceling flights before the Christmas weekend—scrapping 1,300 flights on Thursday and Friday last week.
Following thousands of flight cancellations, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it was “concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays and reports of lack of prompt customer service” and will be investigating whether or not the cancellations were “controllable” and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.
The storm that began before Christmas and swept the country with snow and record temperatures for December, was one of the biggest in terms of impact. The death toll has passed 50 with emergency personnel still looking for bodes in stranded vehicles in Upstate New York.
–Metro Voice and wire services