Southwest Airlines isn’t a niche carrier, for many years they’ve been the largest carrier of domestic airline passengers in the U.S. They may only be the fourth biggest airline, but that’s because their international route network is so limited.
So when Southwest melts down over Christmas, it’s a big deal. And even with Christmas over, the mess continues. Southwest has already cancelled a third of its flight systemwide again today. On Sunday they were closer to cancelling half. Scenes from their terminals have been brutal.
The current line for cancellations/rescheduling at Southwest Airlines counter at DIA. 😮 pic.twitter.com/wtrzu6qYcy
— Jeremiah Bellile (@miahbellile) December 26, 2022
Southwest Airlines Disaster
Houston Hobby Airport
— JT (@jtmma567) December 26, 2022
@SouthwestAir I have missed Christmas with my family after several delays and cancellations and I am now stranded at the Kansas City airport. Almost all of the flights for southwest have been canceled with hardly any explanation or anyone at the gates. This is baggage claim pic.twitter.com/Gzhtfca5Hy
— Caroline “Flynn” (@ceaflynn) December 26, 2022
Even when weather disruptions end, planes are out of position. Crew are out of position. And Southwest’s CEO told employees they don’t yet have the tech to recover quickly. Nowhere is that more evident than when employees, ready to work, are trying to figure out where to go to get a night’s rest before working the next day, or address issues with their trip so they can work.
That’s a screenshot of over 15 HOURS on hold with crew scheduling! Flight crews sleeping in airports because of cancelled flights was common. pic.twitter.com/pNtjHMSYk6
— Paul St.Onge (@stpaul77) December 26, 2022
I’m supposed to fly Southwest tomorrow. My wife preferred the Southwest flight time. As a ConciergeKey facing potential irregular operations I’d have been much better off on American.
- A priority phone line more expedited than what I’ll get from Southwest A-List
- A club lounge (outstanding service in Austin!) for in-person assistance.
While the American Airlines ‘next flight guarantee’ for ConciergeKey members is limited to two passengers, and we’re three, I’d have an easier time getting re-routed because I’d have an easier time getting someone to help me. Southwest, on the other hand, had its phone system melt down.
I did not follow my own advice, oh sure at the time I had a reason. It’s a good idea, in a world without change fees (excluding basic economy), to buy a backup reservation on a different airline. Even if I’d planned to fly Southwest, I could have booked an American itinerary also and just cancelled it if things worked out as planned.
Fares were reasonably priced, but mileage prices quite high. I didn’t want to spend the miles on the backup, even though I have plenty of miles, and I didn’t want to spend the cash. That’s silly for me of course since whether American or Southwest I’ll use travel credit in the future for my wife and daughter. I just saw the ticket cost times three, the hassle of managing more travel credit, and see flights between two warm-ish destinations and rolled the dice. Of course now there’s no reasonable options to even purchase on another airline.