Southwest Airlines is under fire from critics.
The American airline is largely disrupted by the extreme cold wave in the United States with more than 10,000 flights canceled in a few days, chaos in airports and a persistent mess.
"It's a real debacle," laments Mike Sage, who hoped to return to Florida on Monday after spending Christmas with his children in Connecticut.
This traveler cannot reach Southwest by phone, web or app.
The other major airlines in the country have also faced difficulties, Delta and United for example having canceled 1,835 and 1,257 flights respectively between Thursday and Monday according to the Flight Aware site.
But with the rise in temperatures, activity resumed on Tuesday: American, United, Delta and JetBlue thus posted cancellation rates of 0% to 2%.
Not at Southwest.
More than 60% of flights canceled on Tuesday
After canceling more than 70% of its flights on Monday, the company cut more than 60% again on Tuesday, warning that it would only take off about a third of its planned routes “over the next few days”.
On social networks, there are many photos of long queues in front of Southwest kiosks and unclaimed suitcases.
Travelers on Southwest separated from their luggage.
The video is from Reagan National.
The pic is from Houston Hobby on Xmas day.
Just talked to one man who's waited 90 minutes in line at 'Baggage Services.'
Only one worker inside.
— Adam Longo (@adamlongoTV) December 28, 2022
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The management has apologized for a situation that it describes itself as "unacceptable".
"We had all the necessary personnel and were prepared" as the Christmas weekend approached, Southwest said on its website.
But the extreme cold and heavy snowfall that hit the United States for several days, killing at least 50 people, severely disrupted activity.
For the unions, however, the company's failures stem from deeper causes: the combination of a more dispersed network of routes than that of other major American companies, which often revolve around a few key airports, and a system of employee assignments exceeded.
Under these conditions, the crews are sometimes "in the wrong place, without a plane", explained the vice-president of the union of the company's pilots, Mike Santoro, on CNN.
Software “does not know where we are, where the planes are.
It's frustrating for pilots, flight attendants and stewardesses, and of course passengers,” he added.
The US government has in any case taken up the subject, the Department of Transport considering that the rate of cancellations and delays of the company as well as the lack of appropriate responses to customers were “unacceptable”.
US President Joe Biden, for his part, assured in a tweet that his administration was working to ensure that companies "take their responsibilities", while the chair of a Senate committee, Maria Cantwell, announced her intention to investigate the causes of disruption and its impact on passengers.
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