Travelers 'beyond frustrated' by Southwest Airlines cancellations
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Many Southwest Airlines customers at Dallas Love Field expressed disappointment, frustration, and anger Monday after facing multiple flight delays and cancellations since before Christmas.
Talia Jones, a Southwest Air customer said, "I'm beyond frustrated and hurt because I can't see my dad. So yeah, it's very disappointing."
On Monday evening, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it's looking into the situation at Southwest Airlines.
It tweeted, "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."
Just before 6:30pm Monday, Flightaware showed Southwest cancelled 2,826 flights, or 69% of its schedule nationwide, and delayed 714 other flights.
All day at Dallas Love Field, there was a long line of people trying to rebook their flights after they were cancelled.
In the baggage terminal, there was also a long line of people.
Their flights were cancelled and they were trying to get their checked bags back.
One passenger complained he had medication and needed his bags back.
Hours later, the airline brought them out for him.
But most people didn't have such luck.
At one point a Southwest employee announced over the loudspeaker that the airline had six thousand bags on the secure side that they couldn't return to their owners and instead, the luggage would be sent to their intended destination.
The employee announced she's never seen a situation like this at her 25 years working for the airline.
Another customer, Sam Smith of Dallas said he tried to get rebooked after his flights were cancelled.
When that failed, he and his wife missed spending time with relatives for Christmas. "At that point, we just decided we're not going to try this anymore. We're canceling this whole thing, please give us our bags back and we don't know where they are. The phone number they give us is not responsive. We're just trying to get our bags back so we can drive to where we need to be."
Smith said by the time we met up with him before noon, they'd been waiting for their baggage for 15 to 16 hours.
At the same time, there was no line at the TSA security checkpoint.
It was empty for much of the day as the flight board showed mostly cancellations and delays.
Southwest Airlines said Monday it's still experiencing disruptions and lingering effects from the big storm.
The President of the TWU 556, the union representing Southwest Air's Flight Attendants, Lyn Montgomery, said Monday their members have had to wait on hold on the phone for as long as eight hours to find out their next assignments and that there have been other issues. "There have been situations where they have a flight board completely and they didn't have pilots scheduled for the flights. They have been unable to locate what crews have been working what flights, which is a serious matter."
In a statement to CBS-11, a Southwest Airlines spokesman said, "We are re-accommodating as many customers as possible, based on available space, whose itineraries have been disrupted. Those whose flights have been canceled may request a full refund or receive a flight credit, which does not expire."
The airline further said, "We recognize falling short and sincerely apologize."
The cancellations and chaos have also attracted the attention of the U.S. Department of Transportation, which says it is now investigating "whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan."
As a result, Southwest Airlines says it's canceling more flights today and tomorrow in an attempt to allow its operations to catch-up and get planes and flight crews in their proper places.
No word yet when Southwest's operations will catch up. The airline said Monday evening in a press conference that customers would not be allowed to rebook before Dec. 31, 2022.
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