As an enormous winter weather event hammered the nation, one airline stands out for its lack of preparedness to handle it.
The wild and tragic winter storm that ravaged the U.S. during the holiday weekend has caused misery for millions.
The human toll is heartbreaking. Bodies were recovered from cars that were trapped in snow. The tripledemic left households suffering from covid, the flu and RSV stuck in their homes with difficulty getting medical care.
Tens of thousands of air passengers were stranded in airports as flight cancellations were announced in epic numbers.
The storm affected every major carrier in the U.S.
Southwest Airlines Is Under Federal Investigation
“USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service,” tweeted @USDOT on Dec. 26. “The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.”
President Joe Biden weighed in on the situation.
“Thousands of flights nationwide have been canceled around the holidays,” he posted from the @POTUS Twitter account. “Our Administration is working to ensure airlines are held accountable. If you’ve been affected by cancellations, go to @USDOT’s dashboard to see if you’re entitled to compensation.”
Twitter Reacts to Airport Scenes and Southwest’s Chaos
A television reporter in San Diego posted a video of passengers’ luggage at baggage claim.
“All flights leaving San Diego tonight are canceled, announcement just now over the intercom says the airline is ‘frozen and not able to assist with rebooking,'” wrote @10NewsAcevedo on Twitter. “People are told find their bags in these piles. Several are in tears.”
A reporter at Tampa International Airport posted video of a similar scene.
“What a mess,” wrote @angie_angers. “This is the Southwest Airlines baggage claim at Tampa International. There’s 24 more Southwest flights canceled this morning. Many tags on these stranded bags are from travelers from Denver, Houston and Baltimore.”
“@SouthwestAir, your solo desk agent worked 16 hours, was asked to keep working because of canceled flights. They broke down crying at the desk. This employee treatment is not ok,” tweeted passenger @ruthschmidt. “I can be chill about weather/computer issues, but abusing your workers will make me switch airlines.”
“Total collapse of Southwest Airlines in Oakland, California. I fly a lot and never seen anything like this. Every flight is cancelled/’delayed.’ My flight to Phoenix was canceled because ‘the crew didn’t show up,” shared @mikebolen.
“A @SouthwestAir pilot hands out coffee to delayed passengers on a flight from Baltimore to Louisville. ‘We’re trying folks,’ he told the crowd to a smattering of applause as everyone waited for replacement flight attendants,” wrote @EricFlackTV.
“Blame Southwest Airlines as a corporation, not the employees and staff who are overworked, stressed, and treated like garbage by the same company that cancelled all these flights. It’s the C-suite corporate leaders who deserve all the wrath for the mismanagement and mistreatment,” remarked Twitter user @eugenegu.
Southwest Air, for its part, has attributed the situation to its scheduling technology being overwhelmed plus the extreme weather.