Breaking News
More () »

Christmas nightmare: Southwest flight cancellations hit more than 2,700, per FlightAware

Southwest canceled about 70% of its flights on Monday.

DALLAS — There were a lot of frustrated passengers trying to get home for Christmas at Dallas Love Field. And it didn't appear to be slowing down Monday.

After a weekend that saw hundreds of Southwest flights canceled, including many at Dallas Love Field, FlightAware was reporting Monday afternoon that more than 2,700 Southwest flights had been canceled Monday.

That's around 70% of the Dallas-based airline's flights for the day.

Southwest in a statement Monday said it was "experiencing disruptions across our network" as a result of wintry weather across the country. But by early Monday afternoon, the airline said the weather was "considerable more favorable" and the company was working to "stabilize and improve our operation."

"We are re-accommodating as many Customers as possible, based on available space, whose itineraries have been disrupted," Southwest said in a statement. "Those whose flights have been canceled may request a full refund or receive a flight credit, which does not expire."

In some markets, Southwest was trying to get people to their destinations via bus rather than plane. 

"We have moved a small number of customers via bus, but not from Dallas to my knowledge," a Southwest rep told WFAA. "SWA is covering expenses."

Southwest said the disruptions weren't a staffing issue.

"Any rumor or innuendo of a job action from Southwest Employees in unfounded and we commend the thousands of our People working around the clock to serve our Customers and each other," the airline's statement said.

On Sunday, Southwest Airlines nationwide canceled 735 flights, about 19% of flights, according to FlightAware.

On Saturday, they canceled about 38% of flights, and on Friday, over 30% of flights were canceled.

On Sunday, WFAA spoke with stranded and delayed passengers at the airport.

"I’m here, where I want to be," said Margaret Milligan, who flew in from Albuquerque.

For Margaret, getting to Dallas on Christmas was a challenge. 

"Margaret was supposed to fly out on southwest, she was at the airport. they cancelled her flight in Albuquerque," said Emily Milligan, her daughter-in-law.

Nearly everyone at Love Field was trying to make it home for the holidays.

Aviation expert Steve Cosgrove said Southwest Airlines was one of the hardest hit by the big winter storm last week.

"You’ve got a combination of weather, crews out of position," said Cosgrove, CEO of Dynamic Travel.

But the problems for the airline continued.

"Southwest runs a very tight schedule. They turn a plane in 20 minutes. You start getting planes and crews out of place, it’s tough to get them back in place. Northeast and the central with weather, they had fog in San Diego, weather in Seattle, weather hitting Denver. These are major operations," said Cosgrove.

Cosgrove said the delays and cancellations are not only because of the weather, but because of a shortage in pilots and staff. Pilots are only allowed to fly a certain number of hours, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

"They eventually get to a point where they get timed out, they worked their 16-hour duty day. The FAA mandates their rest periods," said Steve.

While crews and employees are doing the best they can, everyone just wants to get home.

"People just want to be with family that’s what it boils down to," said Emily.

Added Southwest, in part, within a separate, additional statement to WFAA: ""Our heartfelt apologies for this are just beginning. We’re working with safety at the forefront to urgently address wide-scale disruption by rebalancing the airline and repositioning crews and our fleet ultimately to best serve all who plan to travel with us... Our employees and crews scheduled to work this holiday season are showing up in every single way. We are beyond grateful for that. Our shared goal is to take care of every single customer with the hospitality and heart for which we’re known. On the other side of this, we’ll work to make things right for those we’ve let down, including our employees. With no concern higher than ultimate safety, the people of Southwest share a goal to take care of each and every customer. We recognize falling short and sincerely apologize."

Before You Leave, Check This Out