The company blamed the mass cancellations on air traffic control and weather challenges, but travel experts say there’s more to the story.
From San Francisco to Denver, where imposingly long lines stretched through the airport—even New York’s La Guardia—nationwide, thousands of passengers are stranded and desperate to find a flight.
Southwest was forced to pull the plug on close to 2,000 flights during a holiday weekend, characterizing it as a curveball that compounded.
The company said, “We experienced weather challenges in our Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, challenges made worse by unexpected air traffic control issues in the same region triggering delays and prompting significant cancellations.”
The FAA was quick to fire right back on Twitter: “No FAA air traffic staffing shortages have been reported since Friday.”
Industry experts believe Southwest has some bigger picture problems. Over the summer, the airline also faced widespread delays due to staffing shortages and network issues.
Customers like Louie Means, who went to Florida for his son’s engagement and then had to drive nine hours back to Houston, want answers. He said, “We call customer service. And we went ahead. I said, ‘Well, let’s just go ahead and keep the phone on after six hours.’ We finally took off.”
Andrew Sproge and his family were forced to sleep overnight in the Honolulu airport, waiting on a connecting flight to Maui for their family vacation. “You could see up and down the screens,” he said. “Just canceled, canceled, canceled…”
American Airlines, by comparison with a major hub in Miami, canceled 66 mainline flights Saturday.
American, Delta, Frontier, Jetblue, and Spirit all have sizable operations in Florida. None of them are reporting any cancellations or many cancellations.