Southwest Airlines cancels more than 1,000 Sunday flights

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Southwest Airlines canceled hundreds of flights over the weekend, blaming the woes on air traffic control issues and weather.

The airline canceled more than 1,000 flights in total, or 29% of its schedule, as of 7 p.m. Sunday, according to flight tracker FlightAware. That was the highest rate by far of the major U.S. airlines. Next in line was Allegiant, which canceled 6% of its flights. American Airlines canceled 5% of its flights, while Spirit canceled 4% on Sunday, according to the flight tracker. On Saturday, Southwest Airlines canceled more than 800 flights.

Southwest Airlines said in an emailed statement that it had experienced weather challenges in its Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, which were compounded by unexpected air traffic control issues in the same region. Those issues triggered delays and prompted significant cancellations for the airlines beginning Friday evening.

“We’ve continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and crews repositioned to take care of our customers,” said Southwest Airlines. “With fewer frequencies between cities in our current schedule, recovering during operational challenges is more difficult and prolonged.”

The company said that it’s allowing customers to explore self-service rebooking options on, where they can get updates on the status of their travel.

However, Henry H. Harteveldt, president and travel industry analyst at The Atmosphere Research Group, based in San Francisco, points to other causes for the cancellations.

First, he says Southwest has scheduled more flights than it can handle, a problem that started in June. He also noted that Southwest operates what’s known as a point-to-point route network, and when a delay occurs, it “cascades” along the remaining flight segments. That’s because, for example, a Southwest flight departing Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the airline’s home base of Dallas may make multiple stops along the way.

But Harteveldt says the most troubling reason is the likelihood that some pilots who oppose Southwest’s decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations are participating in an illegal job action where they call in sick or are engaging in a “work slowdown.”

In a statement Saturday, the airline’s pilot union, Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said that’s not the case.

“SWAPA is aware of operational difficulties affecting Southwest Airlines today due to a number of issues, but we can say with confidence that our pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions,” it said.

Harteveldt noted Southwest’s woes could linger and affect its fourth quarter financial performance.

“All of this is happening as people are in the midst of booking their Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year holiday travel,” he said. “It’s very possible that some people who might normally book on Southwest may see this news and choose to fly other airlines.”

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6 thoughts on “Southwest Airlines cancels more than 1,000 Sunday flights

  1. All large employers, hospital systems, etc are learning that mandating healthcare choices is a recipe for failure.

    Keep ringing those progressive lobbyists to help spin the excuses.

    1. Most of them already mandate the flu vaccine and it was never a problem.

      Since you’ve got the choice, take your chances with the American-made vaccine, not the virus that has a fair chance of being made in a Chinese lab.

    2. “A week and a half ago, Mark Green summoned his energy to videotape a message urging whoever was listening to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

      He died Oct. 1.

      Green and his immediate family had decided against taking the vaccine, despite his own doctor’s urging. When he caught COVID-19 and was subsequently hospitalized, Green felt it was important to urge others to take the vaccine.

      When he shared his story with IndyStar on Sept. 24, the 58-year-old New Palestine man was sitting in a room in the critical care unit of Hancock Regional Hospital in Greenfield, tethered to a device that delivered oxygen to his lungs. Pausing frequently to catch his breath, Green said the vaccine had gotten caught up in politics and urged everyone to take it for their health. ”

  2. Flying in Europe last week gave me a chance to experience how real airlines work. The flights leave on time because the equipment is there in working order. They land when they are supposed to.

    All of the US based airlines seem to have forgotten the reason they exist.