Canceled Southwest Airline flights result in an inspection

Canceled Southwest Airline flights result in an inspection

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The US Department of Transportation says it will look into canceled Southwest Airlines flights that left passengers stranded at airports across the country in the midst of a severe winter storm which has killed dozens of people.

Many airlines were forced to cancel flights due to the weather, but Southwest was by far the leader in canceled flights. About 4,000 domestic U.S. flights were canceled Monday, according to the tracking website FlightAware, and 2,900 of those were on Southwest.

Southwest’s problems continued Tuesday, and the airline warned it would operate a reduced schedule for days.

Other major airlines, including American, United, Delta and JetBlue, experienced cancellation rates between zero and 2 percent on Tuesday. Southwest Airlines’ flight cancellation rate is 62 percent, according to FlightAware, after the airline canceled more than 70 percent of its flights Monday.

Southwest spokesman Jay McVeigh said at a news conference in Houston that cancellations have increased as storm systems move across the country, leaving crews and planes stranded.

“So we’ve been chasing our tails trying to catch up and get back to normal safely, which is our number one priority as quickly as possible,” he said. “And that’s exactly how we ended up where we are today.”

A Southwest Airlines employee tries to help passengers find their lost luggage at Midway International Airport, Monday, Dec. 26, 2022, in Chicago.

More than 2,800 more flights had already been canceled in the US as of 7 a.m. Tuesday, and the problems are likely to carry over at least into Wednesday.

Passengers stood in long queues trying to rebook their flights. The Department of Transportation said on Twitter that it was “concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable level of cancellations and delays and reports of a lack of prompt customer service.” The tweet said the department would look into whether Southwest could have done anything about the cancellation and whether the airline followed its customer service plan.

Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the airline will operate just over a third of its normal schedule to allow crews to get back to where they need to be.

“We had a tough day today. In all likelihood, we’re going to have another tough day tomorrow as we get out of this,” he said on Monday night. “It’s the biggest event I’ve ever seen.”

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