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Southwest Airlines’ holiday meltdown brings on federal investigation

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Southwest Airlines’ holiday meltdown brings on federal investigation
Southwest Airlines’ holiday meltdown brings on federal investigation

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines faces a federal investigation into whether it violated its own legally required customer service plan amid a blizzard of flight cancellations that ruined plans and angered travelers over the Christmas holiday.

In a statement late Monday, officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation calle the service meltdown, which resulted in the cancellation or delay of most of the carrier’s flights over the holiday weeken, “disproportionate and unacceptable.”

As Winter Storm Elliott starte to wreak havoc on a large chunk of the U.S., the vast majority of cancele flights across the nation were operate by Southwest Airlines. And air travelers’ woes are likely to continue this week.

Southwest Airlines’ holiday meltdown brings on federal investigation

“USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service,” the agency posted on Twitter on Monday evening. “The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted shortly after that he was “tracking [the issue] closely” and would have more to say about this Tuesday.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the DOT said on Twitter that Buttigieg had spoken “with union leaders and the CEO of Southwest Airlines to convey the Department’s expectation that Southwest meet its obligations to passengers and workers and take steps to prevent a situation like this from happening again.”

Southwest Airlines’ holiday meltdown brings on federal investigation

Southwest officials said in a message to employees. Obtaine by the The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday. That staffing issues were a large part of the reason the planes were being grounde after pilots and other staff couldn’t get to the airports where they were neede.

In a statement to The Dallas Morning News, a spokesperson for the airline the largest in 23 of the nation’s top 25 travel markets said that it was slashing flights and halting ticket sales for the coming days while it recovers.

“Due to our limited schedule and large number of re-accommodations, inventory available to book flights across our network is very low. We are still operating flights,” Southwest spokesperson Chris Perry said in a statement.

Mike Santoro, vice president of the pilots union for the airline,

Told CNN the core of the issue was an outdate.Those technology problems, he said, have left pilots and crews strande in cities across the country/ Looking for accommodations, unable to get through to airline officials to find out. Where they or the planes they’re schedule to staff are suppose to be.

“We don’t know where we are, they don’t know where the airplanes are, and it’s frustrating,” Santoro said. “We are tire of apologizing for Southwest. Our hearts go out to all of the passengers.”

On Tuesday, the airline scrubbe 64% of its flights. Representing nearly 90% of cancellations from all carriers into and out of the country. According to the online airline tracker FlightAware.

The carrier has already cancele 62% of its flights for Wednesday. Accounting for all but 33 of more than 2,500 cancele U.S. flights that day.

Southwest officials issue “heartfelt apologies” Monday that they said were “just beginning” as challenges they also describe as “unacceptable” are expecte to continue this week.

Officials said in the statement that the severe winter weather cause “wide-scale disruption” and that the airline is working at full capacity to restabilize service.

“We anticipate additional changes with an already reduced level of flights as we approach the coming New Year holiday travel period,” the statement read. “We’ll work to make things right for those we’ve let down.”

That may come as cold comfort for travelers who spent the entire holiday weekend. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, who were separate from stacks of luggage.The Southwest hub without having been notifie that their flights were cancele. On Christmas Day, more than 100 flights were delaye or cancele at the San Antonio International Airport.