Southwest restored its full schedule on Friday after cutting flight schedules for much of the week in a bid to get back on its feet following the cascade of cancellations. It canceled just a few dozen flights on Saturday and Sunday — less than 1% of what it had planned each day, FlightAware said.
Citing early-morning fog in Chicago and heavy snowfall in Denver, Southwest canceled around 190 flights Monday, or about 4% of scheduled flights, according to FlightAware. The airline had proactively scrubbed many of those flights ahead of Monday in anticipation of the weather.
“We have a normal timetable today and are satisfied with the operational performance of the last few days,” said a spokeswoman.
Flight disruptions across the industry increased Monday afternoon.
The Federal Aviation Administration slowed the volume of flights into Florida airspace due to a computer problem at air traffic control at a Miami facility that monitors flights over part of the state. According to an FAA release, the flights had an average delay of more than two hours.
The agency said the problem affecting a system at a facility that handles route traffic has been resolved.
The Southwest meltdown has been scrutinized by the US Department of Transportation.
Photo: Mark Hertzberg/Zuma Press
“The FAA is working to safely return to a normal traffic rate in Florida airspace,” it said.
In total, more than 700 flights to, from or within the United States were canceled as of Monday night, according to FlightAware.
Southwest said it is monitoring the impact of the slowdown on its operations and said it will work to minimize disruption to customers.
Other problems related to air travel over the weekend.
San Diego International Airport has run out of fuel after a section of a pipeline serving the area was shut down due to a leak in late December. Some flights from that airport had to make pit stops to refuel, the airlines said. Kinder Morgan Inc., the pipeline operator, said it expects the pipeline to be back online on Tuesday.
Houston and Dallas airports faced delays due to storms Monday, according to FAA advisories.
The flare-ups across the country are a test for Southwest, which is under particularly intense pressure to deliver a smooth travel experience after struggling with the rolling effects of a severe storm and then scrapping part of its schedule for three days to restart itself .
While this storm caused problems for all airlines, Southwest canceled far more flights and recovered much more slowly than others. Airline executives said the planning system used to revise crew schedules after disruptions was overwhelmed with the volume of changes required. The airline canceled nearly 16,000 flights from December 22-29.
The airline, the largest carrier for domestic passengers in the United States, is faced with the task of reassuring its customers amid increasing scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the agency will pay close attention to Southwest’s efforts to compensate affected customers, and Democratic lawmakers have suggested the airline’s troubles are a sign the government needs to take more aggressive action to protect passengers.
Southwest executives have said work is already underway to upgrade some of its stubborn systems, but the meltdown will prompt a deeper review. Chief Operating Officer Andrew Watterson told employees in an update Saturday that he and Chief Executive Bob Jordan plan to conduct a full post-mortem analysis of the issues beginning Tuesday.
“We plan to have a clear, transparent view of what went wrong while our memory is fresh,” said Mr. Watterson.
Southwest has apologized for the difficulties and has pledged to refund flights and reimburse customers for expenses during the disruptions.
“There is no way I can tell everyone or ask you to turn the page at this event because it is so meaningful and we will be working with our clients and each other to heal for a long time,” Mr. Jordan told staff on in a message on Sunday.
The airline recruited volunteers over the weekend to help process customer refunds and sort through the deluge of missing bags to be returned to customers.
Some customers who were separated from bags last week said they are still waiting for them.
James Nolan said he used AirTags to watch his family’s three bags make their way around Denver International Airport since their flight to Sacramento, Calif., was canceled on December 26. One day they sat outside the gates of Terminal C, then moved to a freight yard and then to a maintenance hangar. He said he returned to the airport twice to look for the bags and made several calls to no avail. When he and his family took a rebooked flight to Sacramento on Dec. 30, the bags weren’t in the flight.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have a resolution,” Mr. Nolan said Monday.
Southwest has said it is working to bring bags back to customers, including using United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. to transport lost luggage.
Dan Adams, who has been trying to get his luggage back since his family opted not to fly from Atlanta to Dallas on December 24 because of an hour-long delay, said Monday that he received a notification from FedEx that two of his three Bags should arrive this week. On Monday, they picked up the third bag – his daughter’s – after driving to the Atlanta airport, where staff were able to locate it after about an hour of searching, Mr Adams said.
– James R. Hagerty contributed to this article.
Write to Alison Sider at [email protected]
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