Southwest Airlines’ Suspicious Operational Meltdown

Southwest Airlines’ Suspicious Operational Meltdown

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Southwest Airlines is experiencing a huge number of cancelations and delays this weekend, and the carrier’s explanation doesn’t make much sense…

Southwest cancels 1,800+ flights

On Saturday and Sunday alone, Southwest Airlines has canceled over 1,800 flights (and that’s as of 9AM on Sunday, so expect things to get worse). According to data from FlightAware:

  • On Saturday, October 9, 2021, Southwest canceled 808 flights (24% of the schedule) and delayed 1,154 flights (35% of the schedule)
  • On Sunday, October 10, 2021, Southwest canceled 1,007 flights (27% of the schedule) and delayed 120 flights (3% of the schedule)

Expect the number of cancelations (and especially the number of delays) to increase massively throughout the rest of the day, and also into Monday and Tuesday, since there’s a huge domino effect to airline irregular operations.

Southwest blames ATC & weather for cancelations

Why is Southwest experiencing so many cancelations this weekend? The airline blames this on “ATC issues and disruptive weather.” There’s only one small problem with that — it seems like it’s only Southwest impacted by ATC and weather issues, which sure doesn’t add up:

  • On Saturday American canceled 66 flights (2% of the schedule), Delta canceled 16 flights (less than 1% of the schedule), and United canceled 11 flights (less than 1% of the schedule)
  • On Sunday American canceled 63 flights (2% of the schedule), Delta canceled three flights (less than 1% of the schedule), and United canceled six flights (less than 1% of the schedule)

Given that all airlines use the same ATC system, and there’s large overlap in terms of hubs between these airlines, something isn’t adding up. Interestingly when Southwest had an operational meltdown in June 2021, the airline blamed… wait for it… weather and ATC.

Now, in fairness, there were some major issues with Jacksonville air traffic control there, and while Southwest has a significant presence at the airport, it doesn’t explain the extent of the issues we’ve seen. So while weather and ATC likely partially contributed to Southwest’s problems, it doesn’t tell the full story.

Southwest is blaming ATC & weather for its issues

What’s the real reason for Southwest’s issues?

Staffing has been a consistent issue in the airline industry since we’ve seen a recovery in demand following the pandemic. Many major carriers in the United States are short staffed across various roles, especially with pilots and flight attendants.

Many employees took early retirement or voluntary separation packages from airlines around the start of the pandemic, and with demand having recovered so quickly, airlines now need more staff. While airlines may have enough pilots and flight attendants to cover their schedules, when there are delays, cancelations, or staff call in sick, they don’t have sufficient employees on standby.

The further issue with the airline industry is the domino effect when it comes to irregular operations. Airline operations are incredibly complex, and when a plane has a problem in one place, it can have huge issues down the line.

It seems that there could be something further going on. It’s my understanding that a huge number of Southwest pilots have called in sick this weekend, much more than usual. It’s anyone’s guess what the cause of that is, but it follows the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) on Friday asking a court to block the airline from requiring vaccination, in anticipation of an upcoming federal mandate.

SWAPA had already filed a lawsuit against Southwest, claiming that the airline was violating labor laws. The union now doesn’t want the airline to be able to require vaccination (in line with the expected federal mandate) until existing issues are resolved. The union claims that the airline is taking unilateral action that violates the Railway Labor Act (including requiring vaccination), which is supposed to govern relations between airlines and unions.

Given the timing here, I have a hard time imagining that it’s a total coincidence that so many pilots are calling in sick this weekend.

Bottom line

Southwest Airlines is experiencing a huge number of cancelations and delays this weekend, and I imagine this will continue, and likely even get worse. The airline is blaming ATC and weather, essentially claiming it has absolutely no control over these cancelations. However, Southwest seems to be the only airline impacted to this extent, which sure makes you wonder.

It’s my understanding that a lot more pilots than usual have called in sick this weekend, and that just happens to coincide with the union having yesterday taken legal action against the airline over the vaccine mandate. Coincidence? You tell me…

Beyond whatever action may or may not be going on, the situation is exacerbated by the lack of spare employees that major airlines currently have, meaning that when things go wrong, it can take even longer to recover.

If you have a Southwest flight booked in the coming days, don’t expect it’ll necessarily operate as planned.

Has anyone been caught up in this weekend’s Southwest Airlines mess?

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  1. Francis Woods

    If you told me 15 years ago that our country would be so divided, about Covid vaccinations, among other things, I would have said you've been watching too many science fiction movies.... I'm not going to take the bait as many do these days and start with the personal insults towards others with different views. What I will do is suggest all people research how society conducted itself during The Spanish Flu. People didn't complain...

    If you told me 15 years ago that our country would be so divided, about Covid vaccinations, among other things, I would have said you've been watching too many science fiction movies.... I'm not going to take the bait as many do these days and start with the personal insults towards others with different views. What I will do is suggest all people research how society conducted itself during The Spanish Flu. People didn't complain about towns stopping others coming into their communities, and if you left don't come back. People had more grit back then, if a vaccine had been available, they would have lined up for it, not whine about it. Mixing politics and medicine, insanity.

  2. Daren Dabrowski

    You're actually are the "idiot" if you think covid 19 and polio a similar viruses in any way shape or form and react similarly to a vaccine. (I guess you must think the word "virus" means the same thing in all cases) These Covid vaccines are epic failures by any previous standard. Imagine if we judged the polio vaccine by the same standard. "Had a mild case...yeah, I was only a little bit paralyzed from polio after the vaccine. Victory!" What an idiotic new low.

  3. Nicole

    Due to the vaccine mandate, a number of flight crew members are anticipating resigning or being fired, so they are using their remaining PTO/sick days now. It’s that simple.

  4. Mark

    The people calling in sick are doing so in anticipation of being fired and losing their accrued sick days. Bravo Souhtwest employees. Only in this way can you teach people that they cannot control everything

  5. Letz Gobrandn

    It's been a shit show for so long in ground ops, in-flight, and the system. Staff were never replaced after the SWA buyout in the new year! Many working 6-7 a week without a choice and doing double, triple duties in unsafe conditions, some working with bad equipment. Many asking when will we get more help? SWA offered to pay employee's $2,000 to transfer to other stations to combat that problem, only to eventually cause...

    It's been a shit show for so long in ground ops, in-flight, and the system. Staff were never replaced after the SWA buyout in the new year! Many working 6-7 a week without a choice and doing double, triple duties in unsafe conditions, some working with bad equipment. Many asking when will we get more help? SWA offered to pay employee's $2,000 to transfer to other stations to combat that problem, only to eventually cause a shortfall at all stations. Moral is has been at at all time low for so long. This isn't just about mandates...

  6. Scott

    i am pro-union, but as a healthcare professional, the union's lawsuit is pig-headed. We have a tool that prevents COVID infections in most cases. We should use that tool. Antiviral drugs do not prevent the disease, they only help shorten its duration and severity. Like the vaccine, they are not perfect. It is always better to not get a disease than to have to cure it. As for the claim in one comment that natural...

    i am pro-union, but as a healthcare professional, the union's lawsuit is pig-headed. We have a tool that prevents COVID infections in most cases. We should use that tool. Antiviral drugs do not prevent the disease, they only help shorten its duration and severity. Like the vaccine, they are not perfect. It is always better to not get a disease than to have to cure it. As for the claim in one comment that natural immunity is better than the vaccines. that is just stupid. If one dies from COVID, one does not develop natural immunity. And then there is COVID long-haul syndrome. It appears that 10-20% of those who get the disease will not recover completely and will have some disability for life. And the research shows that natural immunity is not consistent from one person to another.

    Because pilots and flight crews are in the position to potentially infect thousands, they should see it as their duty to protect their passengers and those who their passengers could potentially infect.

  7. LetsGoBrandon

    These mandates are wrong and I stand with the pilots and crews. I'll gladly wait to get on a different flight to support their right to medical choice. Standing up for personal freedoms against a tyrannical government is bigger than these delayed and cancelled flights. Let's Go Brandon!!!!

    1. GLCTraveler

      @ LetsGoBrandon..... What a total Self-Centered Dumb-Ass Covidiot you are!! There is NOTHING tyrannical about a government that is trying to protect its citizens from dying! I suppose you think the 700k+ that have already died from Covid is a hoax and made up by the same tyrannical government to scare us!! The majority of the most recent 50-100k that have died are non-vaccinated people, whose last dying words to loved ones is "DON'T be...

      @ LetsGoBrandon..... What a total Self-Centered Dumb-Ass Covidiot you are!! There is NOTHING tyrannical about a government that is trying to protect its citizens from dying! I suppose you think the 700k+ that have already died from Covid is a hoax and made up by the same tyrannical government to scare us!! The majority of the most recent 50-100k that have died are non-vaccinated people, whose last dying words to loved ones is "DON'T be Stupid like I was and go get vaccinated, PLEASE!!"

    2. Wally

      What’s next is the government going to prevent you from ordering a cheeseburger because they want to prevent you from dying? After all, heart disease is still the number one killer. If “vaccines” work so well than why does any one give a sh&t what other people do with their body. The government was not established to make health decisions for me. It you’re worried get the COVID SHOT (that works sometimes).

    3. LetsGoBrandon

      Hey Labrat!!! not everyone wants to fly with vaccinated pilots who are prone to blood clots. Get in line for your 85th booster Labrat. LetsGoBrandon!

  8. Deana Kilby

    60 million welfare recipients are not mandated for covid shot, Biden administration is not mandatory to have covid shot, also vaccine co.s are not mandated to take the shot, immigrants are not mandatory, this is totally unfair , force shot on certain people and not others, this is total destructive to the economy.

    1. ally

      The Biden administration is absolutely mandated to take the vaccine unless exempt by telefilms or medical waiver.

  9. Al

    @JanetGraham Janet, the promodial ooze you speak of must certainly be the GubMInt Kool-Aid you voraciously consume.

    And also, since you brought up primordial ooze, you must also be an evolutionist. Now there's some hard science for you! LOL

  10. Tin Hat

    Haha these jokers think people are stupid. Weather problems huh? I guess their pilots just refuse to fly in the snow and rain like pilots that work on other airlines.

  11. Science first

    All the anti-vaxxers, please share your journal and data that prove your BS. Otherwise, that's all your claims are.

    1. Jeffrey I Chang

      The vaccine is about 47% effective at preventing getting COVID after five months.

      "Effectiveness against infections declined from 88% (95% CI 86–89) during the first month after full vaccination to 47% (43–51) after 5 months. Among sequenced infections, vaccine effectiveness against infections of the delta variant was high during the first month after full vaccination (93% [95% CI 85–97]) but declined to 53% [39–65] after 4 months."

      Tartof, Sara Y, et al. “Effectiveness of...

      The vaccine is about 47% effective at preventing getting COVID after five months.

      "Effectiveness against infections declined from 88% (95% CI 86–89) during the first month after full vaccination to 47% (43–51) after 5 months. Among sequenced infections, vaccine effectiveness against infections of the delta variant was high during the first month after full vaccination (93% [95% CI 85–97]) but declined to 53% [39–65] after 4 months."

      Tartof, Sara Y, et al. “Effectiveness of Mrna BNT162B2 COVID-19 Vaccine up to 6 Months in a Large Integrated Health System in the USA: A Retrospective Cohort Study.” The Lancet, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(21)02183-8.

  12. Jason

    Vaccines don't work, and forcing them is wrong. Hopefully this will teach the airline a lesson.

  13. Tim Dunn

    Southwest exec just said they are understaffed and are willing to cut capacity to stabilize their operations but they have said the same thing through out the other pandemic

  14. Joe Brown

    Was talking to a SWA pilot at a hotel Saturday- he was talking about all of the canceled flights due to lack of crew and said that they were having a "sick-out" due to the opposition to mandatory vaccines.

    1. Amylee

      Yours is the only real comment based on FACT & EXPERIENCE.
      Thank u very much Joe!

  15. Michael J Musumeci

    Also people need to wake up, it's not a mandate yet. There was only a press release about a mandate. There isn't any actual bill, law, or anything on tge books yet. These companies are doing it on their own. Do the research.

    1. Tim Dunn

      Incorrect. Southwest imposed its own mandate

  16. Michael J Musumeci

    I was wondering why on one side they use actual facts. Referencing actually pharmaceutical companies and such. The other has no facts of the present day, and unless you have met them how would you know that they are ooze? Do you know what ooze is? How do you know you are not ooze? What if CNN reported that you are no longer human and the vaccine made you ooze. You would feel sorry for...

    I was wondering why on one side they use actual facts. Referencing actually pharmaceutical companies and such. The other has no facts of the present day, and unless you have met them how would you know that they are ooze? Do you know what ooze is? How do you know you are not ooze? What if CNN reported that you are no longer human and the vaccine made you ooze. You would feel sorry for your comment, and know what being ooze feels like then wouldn't you? Think about your actions and ask the TV for your punishment.

  17. Daniel

    It doesn’t matter how much money you make. A choice is a choice. And this is nothing like a polio vaccine. The polio vaccine completely stopped the disease. These “vaccines” still allow you to spread and get the virus. So this is NEVER going away until something comes along and stops the spread.

    1. Jeffrey I Chang

      Exactly. A recent study in The Lancet found that after six months the vaccine only prevents COVID in 47% of cases. If employee health is the concern then the airline should start regulating BMI.

  18. Janet Graham

    So proud of Southwest Unions standing by their employees not to vax..its a freedom of choice..we have to stop madness of Biden's mandates which are illegal, deadly, and nefarious The shots are experimental and not approved to this day. YET the charades continue to try and force Americans to shoot up their arms with a poison that will surely harm them. Stupid Americans putting out arms for a faulty shot that they don't question its...

    So proud of Southwest Unions standing by their employees not to vax..its a freedom of choice..we have to stop madness of Biden's mandates which are illegal, deadly, and nefarious The shots are experimental and not approved to this day. YET the charades continue to try and force Americans to shoot up their arms with a poison that will surely harm them. Stupid Americans putting out arms for a faulty shot that they don't question its components trusting our govt. When thousands have suffered irreparable harm and loss of life.

    1. GLCTraveler

      @Janet Graham......... You are a Dumb Ass Covidiot!! Science is science and it is the only way we are going to defeat this disease, just like we defeated polio... Please crawl back in the primordial ooze from which you came and stay off planes.

      Dear SW Pilots and their Union, Your thinking and actions are a weasely way of dealing with an international health crisis. Another action that demonstrates how the SW Union can be...

      @Janet Graham......... You are a Dumb Ass Covidiot!! Science is science and it is the only way we are going to defeat this disease, just like we defeated polio... Please crawl back in the primordial ooze from which you came and stay off planes.

      Dear SW Pilots and their Union, Your thinking and actions are a weasely way of dealing with an international health crisis. Another action that demonstrates how the SW Union can be a self-centered organization as opposed to being constructive!

      P.S. I am not anti-Union, just anti-Stupidity!

    2. Jeffrey I Chang

      "Science is science and it is the only way we are going to defeat this disease, just like we defeated polio"

      Nope. The Polio vaccine actually prevented Polio. This vaccine is only 47% effective after six month in preventing contracting COVID.

      "Among sequenced infections, vaccine effectiveness against infections of the delta variant was high during the first month after full vaccination (93% [95% CI 85–97]) but declined to 53% [39–65] after 4 months."

  19. M.Bell

    A pandemic? Are you vaccinated?

  20. Jill

    Why are people flying there’s a pandemic going
    What happened to stay home it saves lives
    Seriously can people ever without flying?

    1. James Talley

      Well, for those stay-at-homers seems to be “Geez, something could happen to me (odds dying fom Covid in vax’ed person under 70 ~one in 28,000 over course of a year) & I couldn’t watch TV 12 hours/day”-frightful prospect (Covid isn’t going away)

  21. Ray ray

    $200,000 plus a year and won’t take a simple vaccine. Yet to go to certain countries
    They are required…too much ego and kool aid

    1. Michael J Musumeci

      Required to take vaccines that prevent the disease they are taking them for. What does the vaccine do for you if the pilot takes it? Do you think it will stop the spread? Will it stop you from getting it? Also why are more vaccinated people in tge hospital for covid than unvaccinated? Also why have 1.5 million people died of tuberculosis last year, just last year mind you and we have yet to call a pandemic?

  22. Alan

    So many rude comments. Much of this comes down to one issue - the mandates do not accept natural immunity as being the equivalent of the vaccine. Numerous studies have shown that natural immunity is better than the vaccine and much longer lasting. Any pilot who has already had covid should not be forced to take an unnecessary vaccine that could have adverse effects.

    1. GLCTraveler

      @ Alan, You are Covidiot too, just like Janet G.!!

    2. Steve

      Be careful Alan, most people are too dumb to accept stats and facts. They dont know what peer-reviewed means. Its a big blow to many people, that science has proven that natural immunity is far superior to a vaccine that only last for 6 months. Its also very painful for these people to learn that Merck, Eli Lily, Gilead and many other pharmas have effective antiviral treatments that can be taken by capsule that treat...

      Be careful Alan, most people are too dumb to accept stats and facts. They dont know what peer-reviewed means. Its a big blow to many people, that science has proven that natural immunity is far superior to a vaccine that only last for 6 months. Its also very painful for these people to learn that Merck, Eli Lily, Gilead and many other pharmas have effective antiviral treatments that can be taken by capsule that treat covid. Its like these people are rooting for covid to stay strong. Its funny they all trust the pharmaceutical companies on a vaccine but refuse to trust them on medicine that treats covid.

  23. Otis Gleason

    Southwest is one of the best, bashing them brings out your motive. Mandated vaccinations is this administration s Contribution to destroy America

    1. MB

      Southwest is the best....this is unfortunate.

    2. GLCTraveler

      @ Otis & MB, 2 more Covidiots!! I thought Lucky had a more intelligent following?

    3. Steve

      Explain how natural immunity is indeed not more effective? What did all the scientists and doctors and peer reviewed studies get wrong, how are they all idiots and you are the smartest man in the world GLC?

    4. GLCTraveler

      Steve, Steve, Steve......... NO one ever said the vaccine would stop a person from getting Covid, just significantly reduce the No. 1 side effect of getting Covid that is DYING!!!! And so VERY few that get the vaccine have any significant side effects, that getting a vaccination is worth not getting the #1 side effect if not getting vaccinated, i.e. DYING........... Hahaha, I'm not the smartest in the world, just smarter than those that are...

      Steve, Steve, Steve......... NO one ever said the vaccine would stop a person from getting Covid, just significantly reduce the No. 1 side effect of getting Covid that is DYING!!!! And so VERY few that get the vaccine have any significant side effects, that getting a vaccination is worth not getting the #1 side effect if not getting vaccinated, i.e. DYING........... Hahaha, I'm not the smartest in the world, just smarter than those that are NOT vaccinated or believe it's a government conspiracy, including you Stevo!!

  24. Larry Schwickerath

    I personally fly on SW airlines well over 100 flights a year. I know they have severe staffing shortage including pilots. Also with them now mandating covid vaccination more will choose to quit. But the bottom line is they are trying to pass the blame onto others or the weather instead of just telling the truth. Of course they have financial reasons for that. If it's their fault by law they need compensate any affected...

    I personally fly on SW airlines well over 100 flights a year. I know they have severe staffing shortage including pilots. Also with them now mandating covid vaccination more will choose to quit. But the bottom line is they are trying to pass the blame onto others or the weather instead of just telling the truth. Of course they have financial reasons for that. If it's their fault by law they need compensate any affected passengers. Hope they get it figured out quickly. I.have flight tomorrow but no idea if it will be canceled or not

  25. Alex

    I was affected by this. I had SRQ-BWI-PWM booked for early Saturday morning. Was almost ready to go to bed when I received a cancellation email at 8.45PM Saturday. They auto-rebooked me on 5.50PM flight which would arrive way too late at night.. I quickly checked options out of SRQ. Nothing. TPA? Nothing. MCO? Nothing. It almost looked like they cleared their open seats in the system.

    I checked my options and booked new OW...

    I was affected by this. I had SRQ-BWI-PWM booked for early Saturday morning. Was almost ready to go to bed when I received a cancellation email at 8.45PM Saturday. They auto-rebooked me on 5.50PM flight which would arrive way too late at night.. I quickly checked options out of SRQ. Nothing. TPA? Nothing. MCO? Nothing. It almost looked like they cleared their open seats in the system.

    I checked my options and booked new OW tickets on UA. Called WN and they of course refunded me. Still, I arrived to PWM 7 hours late. I had to spend over $600 for 3 tickets on UA. And my WN ticket was booked with a credit that is set to expire late October so refunding it back to me does me no good.

    I'm in Maine now and still got to see how my return on WN goes but I will be asking them for compensation once I get back home.

  26. HP

    If pilots aren’t smart enough to get Covid shots then they aren’t smart enough to fly an airplane that I get on!

    1. Jester

      What if they’ve had COVID? What if they are allergic to the vaccine or it’s components? What if they’re concerned that the vaccine’s reported side effects will cost them their FAA medical, and therefore their livelihoods?

    2. GLCTraveler

      @ Jester, OMG, you are the #1 Covidiot so far on this article! What if, what if, what if............ the vaccine gave people hemorrhoids and they could sit down and lost their livelihoods? Someone, please get me off of this "Stupidity Train" filled with Covidiots!!

    3. Rational adult

      Perhaps @lucky can help you to leave this “train”…. The rest of us can then continue the conversation uninterrupted.
      Lucky, can you address her request, please?

    4. Alan

      If they have already had covid, then the smart decision is to not vaccinate.

    5. Paul N

      Not true. As a physician, I know that a vaccination (and boosters) will always improve immunity. That is why it’s required of all healthcare providers. Vaccines have a VERY low incidence of complications with near zero chance of death. Not getting a vaccination…. NOT SMART!

    6. GLCTraveler

      @Paul, Thank you for chiming in with the reality on Covid! Please keep it up.

      P.S. I had some dope try to tell me, just yesterday, that he personally knew of 5 persons who died from getting the vaccination!! Where do people come up with such stupid statements and think others will believe them??

    7. T A Romeo

      Thank you Paul! After reading this BS for thirty minutes someone with some sense is here.
      This entire conversation is a complete waste of time because the vaxxers and non-vaxxers will NEVER agree. It really is a shame that so many pilots are wrong!

  27. D3kingg

    I gave two women an Uber ride to Amtrak who were on their way back to St. Louis from Mexico and got canceled in hobby. So instead they had to take a train and bus 12 hrs to get home ….

  28. D3kingg

    Praise the lord. Between the cancelled southwest flights at hobby , festivals , and patriots fans in Houston today was a good day for workers.

  29. John Callan

    Covid has taught me one thing and that is the people are selfish. Selfish not to get the vaccine. These SW Freedom Flyers are taking selfishness to whole new level. Screw as many people as you can on your way out. Good riddance to each and every one of you.

    1. Jester

      Will you please explain why it is selfish to not get the vaccine? I had COVID. I have antibodies. I can still get COVID, and if so, I can still transmit it. I assume you’ve been vaccinated. You have antibodies. You can still get COVID, and if so, you can still transmit it. Yet I’m selfish if I don’t get the vaccine? I think you’re selfish if you don’t go out and get COVID.

    2. GLCTraveler

      @ Jester, it is Selfish and Self-Centered....... And congratulations, you remain the #1 Covidiot today. Just get the vax and quit your whining like a baby! Wah, Wah, Wah.

  30. Ricstir

    What is the responsibility of the airline. I have a vacation plan in a few week flying with southwest.. should I consider an alternative plan at this point.. ?

    Leigh, get a life.. you are the rude person here.

    1. Leigh

      Get a brain, and read what I responded to.

      And you should consider your options. Wait until closer to your flight date, and make sure you’re aware of the airline compensation or reprotection responsibilities. Unfortunately, WN doesn’t have the same FIM (reprotection) agreements as the mainline airlines, so it’s more about their compensation obligations to know about. Hope your travels work out!

    2. Leigh

      And suggestion…

      …if unfortunately you might have troubles with your WN flight, the words to use with the agents are “can you FIM (or “endorse”) the ticket to another airline to (whatever) destination”….airlines hate to do it, because it’s basically handing the money to another airline…and, again, I’m not sure if WN has many such interline agreements in place, but keep it in your back pocket if needed.

      Once had American endorse my economy ticket...

      And suggestion…

      …if unfortunately you might have troubles with your WN flight, the words to use with the agents are “can you FIM (or “endorse”) the ticket to another airline to (whatever) destination”….airlines hate to do it, because it’s basically handing the money to another airline…and, again, I’m not sure if WN has many such interline agreements in place, but keep it in your back pocket if needed.

      Once had American endorse my economy ticket to Delta first class…and it was a weather related delay (not even a cancellation), so they had no responsibility to do that, but they did. Similar situation a few times with other airlines.

  31. G. Johnson

    Yes. Yesterday morning we heard through our travel agent that flights had been cancelled Friday night and Saturday morning. She said we needed a plan B to get to our destination due to all the flights that were being cancelled. We called Southwest and they said our flight was on schedule. However, last night, less than 2 hours before our flight was supposed to takeoff, we got a text that it had been cancelled. We...

    Yes. Yesterday morning we heard through our travel agent that flights had been cancelled Friday night and Saturday morning. She said we needed a plan B to get to our destination due to all the flights that were being cancelled. We called Southwest and they said our flight was on schedule. However, last night, less than 2 hours before our flight was supposed to takeoff, we got a text that it had been cancelled. We lost our money on the hotel we were supposed to stay in last night. We re-booked our flight for Monday, but when we checked their website today, we basically got the impression that this flight might not take off, either. So we are driving.

    1. Zenit08

      In July we drove from central FL to west TX and back on vacation (~3200 miles total). Had a great time. No worries about flight delays or cancellations, no TSA sexual predators, no baggage claim, no taxis or rental cars.

    2. Susan

      If you used a major credit card to book your hotel, it should reimburse you. Check into it.

  32. YY Fung

    OMG! I just checked the flight from Burbank back to San Francisco. Luckily it’s just delayed. Hope I can still fly out. Fingers crossed - no cancellation please. ( I found the other non stop flights were cancelled…..)

  33. Candid Answer

    So you're an idiot. Jacksonville center is what went to shit, not the airport itself. If you knew anything, then you'd know that. Southwest also uses a point to point system, others don't. So 66 cancels at AA may be just that one aircraft, where Southwest could be a whole line of flying all over the country.

    Secondly, yes pilots are pissed off. But, it was not an organized sick out.

    1. Leigh

      You’re really rude. No need to comment to Lucky in such a way.

      Also, your reference to AA and that it could have been 1 aircraft that caused 66 cancellations…since when does one aircraft operate 66 flights a day?

    2. David

      You sound like a pleasant person to be around, a real winner!

    3. chasgoose

      Ok, but like plenty of ULCC’s which are even more point-to-point and would be even more vulnerable to ATC issues in Jacksonville (since unlike an LCC like Southwest, which has nodes/hubs around the country that operate daily flights, the ULCC’s concentrate most of their nodes, especially for the random airports they serve like Trenton for Frontier/Atlantic City for Spirit/any number of airports for Allegiant that may get one flight from very few days), and they...

      Ok, but like plenty of ULCC’s which are even more point-to-point and would be even more vulnerable to ATC issues in Jacksonville (since unlike an LCC like Southwest, which has nodes/hubs around the country that operate daily flights, the ULCC’s concentrate most of their nodes, especially for the random airports they serve like Trenton for Frontier/Atlantic City for Spirit/any number of airports for Allegiant that may get one flight from very few days), and they got through with very few operational issues.

      Furthermore the JAX ATC argument would hold more water if Southwest’s Florida operations were more key to their national network. Sure, on the east coast and the Midwest a lot of their flights are to Florida, but the airports west of the Mississippi with large Southwest presences (like PHX, LAS, DEN, LAX, etc.) also had tons of cancellations this weekend. Those airports might have a couple flights a day to Florida (DEN the most, I think), and even then, based on the routes they were flying to Florida, JAX ATC issues would have a minimal effect. Southwest is probably the most nimble of the big US airlines in being able to respond to a regional issue. If the only issue were the JAX ATC, Southwest would have easily been able to minimize the damage to its West Coast operations until the Florida issues were resolved, at least comparatively, precisely because they aren’t as hub and spoke reliant. If you look at the cancellations, they are nationwide and seemingly random, which suggests luck of the draw whether your pilot went on strike (like today, at ORD, which is more of an outpost to be fair, there was a flight leaving for FLL which left on time while the flight to Denver supposed to leave shortly thereafter was canceled). Also I was in that terminal because I was flying Frontier, which is way more subject to full-blown network disaster in than Southwest if Florida has weather or irrops issues and it was running fine.

  34. Tim Dunn

    As with so many issues, there are multiple factors involved including short staffing which makes recovery from events like weather much harder as well as the vaccine mandates which are the culmination of months of deteriorating labor relations at Southwest.
    Whatever excuse you want to believe, there will be a growing number of passengers, esp. higher yielding business passengers, that simply will not risk flying WN. They had a bad summer operationally, many people...

    As with so many issues, there are multiple factors involved including short staffing which makes recovery from events like weather much harder as well as the vaccine mandates which are the culmination of months of deteriorating labor relations at Southwest.
    Whatever excuse you want to believe, there will be a growing number of passengers, esp. higher yielding business passengers, that simply will not risk flying WN. They had a bad summer operationally, many people thought it was behind as demand fell in the fall, and then you have weekends like this that show the problems are not behind anyone.

    The bigger issue is that if these issues really are related to vaccine mandates, there will certainly be alot more people emboldened to do the same thing at other companies. Regardless of where you stand on the vaccines, too few people have taken seriously the very loud objections some have to them. It is not at all realistic to think that 10% of the US' airline capacity can just be replaced by someone else as a group of employees express their displeasure - and maybe the same thing happened at other ATC centers. Repeat that same thing at businesses and industries across the country and the disruption could be far worse than we have seen for decades in the US and far beyond what happened during the height of the pandemic itself. Sometimes the treatment is worse than the disease.

  35. Stupid covid idiots

    If you are a pilot and aren’t willing to get vaccinated and don’t have a valid medical contraindication…. You are an idiot.

    1. ScrewBiden

      Maybe if the federal government mandated that people on unemployment get vaccinated or lose benefits there wouldn’t be a shortage of workers. If you can’t find a job now you are not looking!

    2. Althea

      That’s not true. I am not getting unemployment and I am looking, sending out resumes and still not getting a job.

    3. Deuces

      Tell that to the 778,683 people that count for approximately 1%-10% of those injured by the jab. But you won’t be able to tell the ones who were perfectly healthy with no medical contraindication that have died.

      https://openvaers.com/covid-data

  36. Dan

    Can’t say much for SW since it’s mostly domestic, but international airlines need to implement the mandate because many locations won’t allow crew in who aren’t vaccinated….and the list is growing. You are deadweight to the company if they can’t send you to locations requiring vaccines. Reserve, rescheduling….they can’t do anything with you. If you are an employee of an international airline you better reevaluate your career choices if you won’t get a vaccine that...

    Can’t say much for SW since it’s mostly domestic, but international airlines need to implement the mandate because many locations won’t allow crew in who aren’t vaccinated….and the list is growing. You are deadweight to the company if they can’t send you to locations requiring vaccines. Reserve, rescheduling….they can’t do anything with you. If you are an employee of an international airline you better reevaluate your career choices if you won’t get a vaccine that is increasingly mandated by other countries.

  37. JL100

    I think it's the pilots boycotting the vaccine. Kind of sad for Southwest, it has been one of go to's in recent years.

  38. Chris

    I was scheduled to fly home from Boston to Fort Myers on Friday the 8th. The flight from Boston to Baltimore was fine but Baltimore to Fort Myers was delayed and then canceled with no flights available until Sunday 10/8.That flight waste also canceled. In order to get back to Fort Myers in time for a very important Dr. appointment on 1/11. I had to take a bus to Harrisburg, PA and fly another carrier...

    I was scheduled to fly home from Boston to Fort Myers on Friday the 8th. The flight from Boston to Baltimore was fine but Baltimore to Fort Myers was delayed and then canceled with no flights available until Sunday 10/8.That flight waste also canceled. In order to get back to Fort Myers in time for a very important Dr. appointment on 1/11. I had to take a bus to Harrisburg, PA and fly another carrier to Fort Myers (pending). I received no vouchers or compensation. I was told 3 lies, the ATC story, the weather story, and a bomb scare story. coincidentally, my brother laws flights from Denver to Fort Myers on the 8th and 9th were also canceled and he DID receive a $1200 voucher. He could turn around and go home. It’s cost me 2 nights in a hotel, potentially a 3rd, had I not taken matters in my own hands; bus fare between Baltimore and Harrisburg, another plane ticket, 3 Lyft rides and food. How can they get away with this?

  39. Tony

    I received an email early this morning that my morning flight had been cancelled. I decided to go to the airport after I was informed that the hold time for my call to CSR would be more than 2 hours. At the airport, I noticed most flights this morning were cancelled. I asked the representative I spoke to whether the cancellations were due to staffing issues and he said yes.

  40. Dennis

    My son developmentally challenged was to arrive from LGA (NY) to TIA(Tampa) Flight cancelled read about on line. No email/text from Southwest. Sounds like they are trying to cover up as much as possible. Bad customer relations!

  41. RaflW

    For what it's worth, a friend got cancelled at MSP yesterday and got a hotel voucher and a $200 future travel credit. If it was weather/ATC, then Southwest would likely not have done that.
    More broadly, knowing that a significant number of SWA pilots are refusing to vax really discourages me from flying 'em again. I was already grumpy because I had to eat a ticket early in the pandemic (DL and JBU didn't...

    For what it's worth, a friend got cancelled at MSP yesterday and got a hotel voucher and a $200 future travel credit. If it was weather/ATC, then Southwest would likely not have done that.
    More broadly, knowing that a significant number of SWA pilots are refusing to vax really discourages me from flying 'em again. I was already grumpy because I had to eat a ticket early in the pandemic (DL and JBU didn't make me do that).
    Now, knowing the SWA pilots are cowboys who don't want to follow safety rules? Buh-bye.

    1. Jester

      You have no idea what a pilot’s personal medical situation is. You want to look at his medical records before you walk down the jetway?

    2. Zip Silver

      Yeah, actually. Pilots have to be medically cleared to fly and that's a recurring thing. The FAA is generally competent, so it's nice to be able to trust that the pilot's medical history is generally good when you board a plane.

  42. Sue

    This is the engineered collapse of the USA. Soon, they will provide food for any who reject Jesus. Don't do it.

  43. Jim Napier

    Mine was one of the 66 cancelled AA flights on Saturday from HTS-CLT due to the weather. Fog was thick as pea soup.

  44. Mark

    Between the WN operational meltdown and the picketing at AA headquarters, how did UA avoid all of the disruptions? You’d think they would have had it worse since they were the first ones. Some people bring up the Texas headquarters of WN and AA but UA has a lot of Texas employees too.

  45. Neal

    Southwest needs to revise their itinerary to signficantly reduce flights to pivot as to what is going on with their reduction in staff. This article spoke to it...They dont have the bench to bring people when they have calls in etc..These over thousand flights cancellled (and just in one day) is costing billions to the flying public. I was to speak at a medical conference in the midwest and got a text late night before...

    Southwest needs to revise their itinerary to signficantly reduce flights to pivot as to what is going on with their reduction in staff. This article spoke to it...They dont have the bench to bring people when they have calls in etc..These over thousand flights cancellled (and just in one day) is costing billions to the flying public. I was to speak at a medical conference in the midwest and got a text late night before my 6am flight, same with return. Had to book two full fare ticket on another carrier coming and going....got stuck with an outrageous extra day rental car, hotel and airport garage parking. It is very arrogant that they think it is ok to book you on a flight 10 hours later and then text to cancel that right before....People are traveling for weddings, funerals, conferences and important life events. It is incredulous that Southwest if not required to have reciprocity agreements with other carriers (like Delta, American and United) that will let you go on those flights so you can get to where you need to be within that time frame. Southwest doesnt have it and I cant entrust them going forward. Who is running Southwest some third grader could do a better job....They didnt plan and anticipate something so inevitable at this weekend. They literally got caught with their pants down and the reprucussions are HUGE....Think about a family of 4 or 5 traveling that had to end up buying last minute full fares on another carrier and couldnt find a hotel because they are all booked. Southwest needs to be transparent and just say this is an internal operations issues period. Trying to blame on weather and the rest when the other airlines werent impacted makes them look like imbeciles....I for one am done with them....

  46. Dan777

    @Jon

    It IS being implemented industry wide DESPITE the fact that the actual rule has yet to be published as that would open it up to legal scrutiny and a possible injunction. So by the time the rule is actually published it will have already long since been implemented. Pretty authoritarian stuff.

    1. Zip Silver

      The airline CEOs had a conference call with the president last week about Covid. Who knows what Biden said to them, but immediately afterwards everybody seemed to change their stance on mandatory vaccinations.

      Probably a lot easier for POTUS to threaten a regulated industry than just about anybody else.

  47. Nick

    This is the only article I could find actually strongly questioning SW's obvious lies. They are trying to avoid paying refunds etc to customers. Sounds like a class action in the making.

  48. V C

    Currently in the airport and suffering to through as I’ve had 3 canceled flights in 2 days. But I’ve over here 2 different flight attendants explain that the as of Friday they had air traffic control walk offs. The airport is crazy in MIA

  49. Mitch

    I am not sure when the cancellations got put in, but their was some nice thunderstorm buildup forcasted yesterday for southern Florida. Controllers are walking off the job/calling in sick in protest of the vaccine mandate. LA, NY, and Jacksonville Center have had the worst of the walk outs so far. On top of it, Dallas-Love has had a ground delay program daily for weeks now due to a runway closure that is planned to reopen in early December.

    1. Leigh

      Good info, however, if this is the case, why weren’t the other airlines affected so much less, or not at all compared to WN? Re DAL, why is it that it’s only this weekend that their ops have been affected? WN news release today makes no mention of DAL, LAX, NYC…only Jacksonville Center.

    2. Moe

      Neither ZLA, ZNY, nor ZJX have had walkouts of any kind. You have no idea what you're talking about.

  50. Craig U

    FYI at the top of the article Saturday should be October 9, 2021, and Sunday the 10th.

  51. Jon

    Ben - The federal vaccine mandate hasn’t been implemented yet. Still going to be several more weeks until OSHA releases the actual rule.

    1. Sean OFarrell

      Southwest announced their requirement on Oct 4th

      https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/southwest-latest-airline-mandate-vaccines-workers-80404959

    2. Moe

      I don't know where people are getting this stuff from, but the EOs were signed last month. Each department in the federal government has issued guidance in accordance with the EO. The procedures are still being worked out at the local level, but the whole federal workforce has been formally notified. I received mine last week. The separate EO for contractors is more complicated, but it was signed and therefore will be implemented accordingly.

    3. Dan777

      @Jon

      It IS being implemented industry wide DESPITE the fact that the actual rule has yet to be published as that would open it up to legal scrutiny and a possible injunction. So by the time the rule is actually published it will have already long since been implemented. Pretty authoritarian stuff.

    4. Jimmy

      There is no single legal or constitutional norm that applies to Biden. He can do as he wishes and the media wooo still cover for him.

Featured Comments Load all 99 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Leigh

You’re really rude. No need to comment to Lucky in such a way. Also, your reference to AA and that it could have been 1 aircraft that caused 66 cancellations…since when does one aircraft operate 66 flights a day?

GLCTraveler

@Janet Graham......... You are a Dumb Ass Covidiot!! Science is science and it is the only way we are going to defeat this disease, just like we defeated polio... Please crawl back in the primordial ooze from which you came and stay off planes. Dear SW Pilots and their Union, Your thinking and actions are a weasely way of dealing with an international health crisis. Another action that demonstrates how the SW Union can be a self-centered organization as opposed to being constructive! P.S. I am not anti-Union, just anti-Stupidity!

Paul N

Not true. As a physician, I know that a vaccination (and boosters) will always improve immunity. That is why it’s required of all healthcare providers. Vaccines have a VERY low incidence of complications with near zero chance of death. Not getting a vaccination…. NOT SMART!

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