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Southwest Airlines outage leaves customers stranded, call centers overwhelmed

Southwest Airlines outage leaves customers stranded, call centers overwhelmed

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(CNN) – Last week’s winter travel mess is lingering like a hangover this week — and the headaches are in migraine proportions for Southwest Airlines and its frustrated passengers on Monday.

More than 3,200 flights into, into or out of the U.S. had already been canceled by 2:30 p.m. ET Monday, according to the flight tracking website FlightAwarewhile almost 5,000 flights were delayed.

But the Southwest accounts for a huge share of them.

The Dallas-based airline had canceled more than half of its flights — more than 2,300 flights in total — as of 2:30 p.m. Monday, according to FlightAware.

On social media, customers complained of long lines to speak with representatives, problems with lost bags and excessive wait times or busy signals on the airline’s customer service lines.

“Outages in our network”

Customers faced long lines at Southwest counters Monday at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.


In a statement to CNN, Southwest Airlines said it was “experiencing disruptions to our network as a result of (the winter storm’s) lingering effects on our entire operation.”

Some of the airports with the biggest problem are Denver, Las Vegas, Chicago Midway, Baltimore/Washington and Dallas Love Field, where Southwest operates.

Calls to Southwest customer service made Monday afternoon by CNN did not go through, so customers could not even get in line to speak with a representative. Southwest told CNN it has “full staff to respond to calls.”

The airline also says “those whose flights have been canceled may request a full refund or receive a non-expiring flight credit.”

Meanwhile, in hard-hit western New York, Buffalo International Airport said in its latest tweet that it plans to resume passenger flights at 11 a.m. ET Tuesday.

The temperature at the airport was 18 degrees Fahrenheit around 2 p.m. ET, with light snow falling in addition to the heavy amounts already seen in the area.

Bad road conditions

Road travel remains treacherous in some parts of the US due to extreme winter conditions.

In western Erie County in New York state, emergency driving restrictions were lifted in some communities, but stayed put in BuffaloCounty Executive Mark Poloncarz said Monday.

“The City of Buffalo is impassable in most areas, while major roads may have an emergency lane or two open, most minor as well as side streets are still unaffected,” Poloncarz said.

He added that the cleared main roads were mainly for the use of life-saving measures to open areas around hospitals and nursing homes.

Tough past week

The winter storm that hit the U.S. was not well-timed for travelers, who began returning the number of flights during the Christmas week to pre-pandemic levels.

On Christmas Day, there were 3,178 flight cancellations and 6,870 flight delays, according to FlightAware.

There were a total of 3,487 canceled flights on Christmas Eve, according to FlightAware.

Friday was the worst day of that streak with 5,934 cancellations, while Thursday saw almost 2,700 cancellations.

This mega-explosive winter across the eastern two-thirds of the nation is forecast to slowly ease this week.

Further developments on this extraordinary news are to come.

CNN’s Ross Levitt, Chris Boyett and Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this story.

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