Millions of Southwest passengers experience historic holiday travel debacle | Business

It’s being dubbed Southwest Airlines’ 2022 Holiday Meltdown and is set to be the worst travel debacle in industry history. The fallout was expected to be astronomical, costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars and tarnishing its reputation. It is now known as the airline that left millions of chairs empty at the holiday table.

“I believe this is a new record,” said aviation expert Michael Boyd.

An additional 5,000 Southwest Airlines flights canceled on Wednesday and Thursday this week are expected to bring the total number of flights scrapped in the nine-day debacle to more than 20,000.

Aside from 9/11, when air fleets across the country were grounded due to the national emergency, and aside from the slow-motion devastation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the meltdowns in the Southwest have left airlines may be known as the king of failures.

“The pandemic has caused thousands of cancellations, but it was a result of global events. This is just one airline and the problem was caused by a major weather event,” Boyd said. I’m here.

According to Southwest Airlines Captain Tom Nekoway, second vice president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, the financial hit to Southwest Airlines is at least $300 million to 4, although the numbers are not yet known. It will be billion dollars.

“I hate to say it, but this is the moment I said it,” he said. Nekouei is based in Lone Tree, Colorado.

On the Wednesday before Christmas, just as the cold weather set in, the Necoray plane was one of the first to land at Denver International Airport.

Southwest passengers in Colorado Springs left frustrated, stranded and without luggage

“We had windshear and the temperature dropped 30 degrees in 30 minutes,” Nekoei said. Airline employees prepared for the storm they knew was coming, but instead of using automation they were unable to compensate for outdated scheduling techniques that required crews to request redeployment.

Thousands of passengers needed rebooking, and hundreds of Southwest Airlines pilots and flight attendants were calling the same number simultaneously for reassignment.

Pilots and flight attendants were left waiting for hours without instructions as cancellations began to pile up. They sat in crew lobbies, hotels, backseats of planes, waiting for directions that never came.

To confirm that the never-ending calls actually took place, Nekouei told the Denver Gazette that from Dec. 21 to now, pilots and flight attendants have spent hours waiting for their airline to choose. I have sent some screenshots taken from the flight attendant’s phone while waiting for the flight. Up.

Hold times range from 1.5 hours to 7 hours and 42 minutes.

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Hold times varied, even for employees, until reaching the southwest in terms of time. These calls count as working hours and are added to the employee’s quota for the month.

To make matters worse, these hours were considered working hours. That meant the crew was keeping watch while waiting to be told what to do. This ate up the total amount of flight hours strictly allotted to keep the crew fresh each month.

Some crew members may have already used up their time for the month as they wait for a mission that may never come, and are not eligible to work until January 1st.

“It just keeps getting worse,” said the catray.

A month ago, Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan admitted that the company needed to update its outdated system, saying it was “lagging behind” and “running out of tools”. That kind of upgrade was expensive and never really happened.

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It wasn’t just the flight attendant situation that had issues. A “state of emergency” memo sent to Denver-based ramp workers at 1:45 p.m. has experienced many “employees. The order was passed on to the employees. “Illness claims” that require a doctor’s note to take leave.

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The Operational Emergency Status memo, sent on Dec. 21, about two hours before Colorado’s frigid cold snap hit, told workers at the ramp in southwest Denver that doctors were unable to attend due to the high number of sick days. I am telling you that I need to attach a medical certificate of I was told that personal days during storms would be denied.

In a statement, Randy Barnes, president of TWU Local 555, which represents Southwest Airlines baggage handlers and other ground workers, said people needed more help.

“If you’re dealing with freezing temperatures, high winds and ice storms, you can’t expect to schedule flights as if every day was a sunny day with mild temperatures and gentle winds,” Barnes said. “Many of our employees have been forced to work 16 or 18 hour days during this holiday season. people have fallen ill and some have experienced frostbite in the past week.”

Jordan, who called getting back on track a “huge puzzle,” apologized to customers. Some of the customers are still waiting to go home, and many of them have no packages.

“Our plan for the next few days is to shorten the schedule and redeploy personnel and aircraft,” Jordan said. “We are making progress and I am optimistic that we will be back on track by next week.”

To set things straight, Nekouei said management needs to be held accountable and Southwest needs to invest immediately in infrastructure and crew scheduling software.

“This was the first real vacation after the pandemic. We left people stranded during this sacred time when grandparents couldn’t see their kids,” he said. “I’m worried that our customers won’t come back.”

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