Southwest Boeing 737-700 in Las Vegas, NV (LAS)

Southwest Airlines Flight Cancellations 2022/2023

Kerwin McKenzieAirline

Southwest Airlines Flight Cancellations: What’s Going On?

With all the Southwest Airlines flight cancellations, it’s been a crazy week for travelers. Many travelers have not made it to their destinations through no fault of their own. As a matter of fact, I know people who have given up on waiting for a flight and did a one-way car rental across the country. Another person drove from one Houston city to another just to make their flight and now wonders if the return flight will operate.

Southwest Airlines (WN) Boeing 737 Max Interior

Southwest Airlines (WN) Boeing 737 Max Interior

Why Is Southwest Cancelling Flights?

Let’s take a look at what’s going on.

From what I can understand, there are three main reasons for this:

Bad weather

Just before Christmas, severe cold weather swept across the United States. Typically, airlines will cancel flights beforehand as this makes for a much faster recovery after the bad weather has passed.  The other U.S. airlines handled this well enough and started their recovery procedures, but Southwest cancelled significantly more than the other airlines in their category and recovery was not as expeditious.

Software Issues

It’s been reported that the company is using software for crew scheduling that is outdated and apparently cannot handle the current volume of flights and crew properly. As a result the number of flights operating have been severely reduced so that the system can recover. This means that not everyone will get to where they are going as planned.

When I looked at flights from Phoenix to Houston, on December 29, 2022, some of the one-stop flights over cities like Denver were cancelled, but the nonstops were fine except for maybe one of them on the day I looked.

Labor Issues

From what I’ve read from news sources, some employees are not happy and there were some issues in the Denver airport with many employees as a memo was sent out about them calling in sick.

You can read more of this on CNN and many other news outlet.

As a result, many passengers did not have Christmas as planned.

What Can You Do If You’re Affected?

  1. Please be nice to the Southwest Airlines employees. They’re giving it all they got for you, given the circumstances. They didn’t cause the issue they are just handling it the best they can. Yelling and screaming won’t get you anywhere. It may actually work the opposite. Be kind. Be patient.
  2. Check if you have travel insurance and what it covers, so you can spend accordingly looking for alternate arrangements and make a claim later. The credit card you used to buy the ticket may cover you.
  3. Use their App to help you rebook if you can.
  4. Consider going to another airport that’s close enough to get another flight.
  5. Keep receipts of any additional expenses and send them an email with the receipts and your story. Be brief and include just the facts. They’ve stated on their website that you should do this; they will read your request and if it’s not too unreasonable, they will see what they can do. I have a friend who bought a $600 ticket on JetBlue to get home to his family when his flight twas cancelled out of Islip-McArthur (ISP); his letter was sent so will see what happens. Here is the blurb from their site:
    • If you have been impacted by a flight cancellation or significant flight delay between December 24, 2022 and January 2, 2023, you may submit receipts for consideration via Email Us on Southwest.com. Using the Email Us link takes you to a support page where you click on Complaint, then choose Flight, then Cancellation, and follow the ‘Next’ prompt. Please attach copies of your expenses for review.We will honor reasonable requests for reimbursement for meals, hotel, and alternate transportation (such as rental cars, or tickets on other airlines).
  6. Ask if you can be rebooked on another flight. This will depend on the relationship Southwest has with that airline.
  7. If you decide to cancel, you are due a full refund and request it on their website www.southwest.com.
  8. The agents have homes and families, too, and they are doing their best.
  9. Pool with other travelers going the same place when seeking alternate travel plans. Maybe you can share a oneway car rental. Hopefully, it won’t be a “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” recap 🙂

Have you been affected? Leave a comment below.