The Department of Transportation is investigating Southwest Airlines after the airline left thousands stranded following the cancellation of thousands of flights over the holiday weekend and beyond.
While several airlines were affected by the winter storm rocking the U.S. in the days leading up to Christmas, Southwest has been unable to recover, comprising the vast majority of flight cancellations across the country.
On Christmas Day, Southwest canceled 1,635 flights. On Monday, that figure increased to 2,909, meaning the airline canceled 71 percent of its flights. Further, Southwest comprised 73 percent of the total U.S.-related flight cancellations that day.
The mass chaos has prompted the Department of Transportation to release a statement, outlining its intention to investigate the matter.
“USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service. The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan,” the department announced:
You can read Southwest’s customer service plan here: https://t.co/2vmG9v9nK5
— TransportationGov (@USDOT) December 27, 2022
Southwest said in a statement that it is recovering from “operational challenges,” citing the “extreme winter weather.”
“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 stated, asserting that it was “fully staffed and prepared for the approaching holiday weekend when the severe weather swept across the continent, where Southwest is the largest carrier in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the U.S.”
“These operational conditions 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,” the airline continued, explaining that it made the decision to work on a “reduced schedule by flying roughly one third of our schedule for the next several days” in order to help return to a state of normalcy.
“With no concern higher than ultimate Safety, the People of Southwest share a goal to take care of each and every Customer. We recognize falling short and sincerely apologize,” the airline added.
As of 11:20 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Southwest had canceled 63 percent of its flights, or 2,544.
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