Southwest flight cancellations expected to continue
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - On Tuesday, the ongoing flight disruptions for Southwest Airlines led to more than 2,600 canceled flights across the U.S. More than 50 arrivals and departures from St. Louis Lambert International Airport got canceled also.
Marika Mitchell’s relatives were visiting from South Africa for Christmas, and the extended family booked a flight to Orlando, with plans to visit Disneyworld.
“And of course, the flight got canceled today. We were lucky enough to get a rental car today. So, we are getting ready to head out to Disneyworld,” she said.
Because of all the canceled flights, rental cars are scarce at rental outlets near the airport. An employee at the Enterprise Rent-A-Car counter said they had 250 reservations but only 15 vehicles.
Flight delays and cancellations are expected to continue. A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines said the number of daily flights would be reduced by 2/3rds for several days, till the situation is under control.
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it’s looking into the problems at Southwest Airlines. Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke with Southwest C.E.O. Bob Jordan about customer outrage. A spokesperson for the USDOT said the rate of cancellations and delays is unacceptable.
In a statement, a USDOT spokesperson said, “The Department will take action to hold Southwest accountable if it fails to fulfill its obligations and we will stay engaged with Southwest Airlines to make sure the airline does not allow a situation like this to happen again.”
The airline blames the lingering effects of a major winter storm for the disruptions. But the head of an airline pilots association said the real culprit is outdated scheduling software.
“We’ve been telling them this for years now. Our software can’t keep track of it. So they don’t know where we are. They don’t know where our airplanes are,” said Captain Mike Santoro, vice president of Southwest Airlines Pilots Association.
While Southwest recorded more than 2,600 cancellations on Tuesday, other airlines say far fewer. According to Flightaware, American Airlines had 25 cancellations, Delta recorded 35 and United had 74.
Another frustrating feature of the ongoing flight problems with Southwest Airlines is lost or misplaced luggage.
“So I flew in from Dallas on the 24th and I made it, but my bags didn’t,” said Stephanie Soleta.
Soleta said she got a call from the airline notifying her that her two bags had finally arrived in St. Louis. So, she returned to the airport to hunt through a sea of stranded luggage to find hers. She eventually found her two pieces of luggage.
But there are still, potentially, thousands of unclaimed bags waiting to be returned to their owners. Most travelers who went to Lambert to catch a flight over the last several days, and found out it was canceled after checking their baggage, never got their luggage returned
And the chaos seemed certain to continue. The airline also scrubbed 2,500 flights for Wednesday and nearly 1,400 for Thursday as it tried to restore order to its mangled schedule.
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