Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,500 flights Wednesday, leaving hundreds of thousands of travelers stranded at airports nationwide due to operational challenges stemming from a relentless winter storm that slammed North America.
The budget airline canceled 2,6594 flights on Wednesday and delayed 1,053, after canceling roughly 13,000 flights in the past few days, according to FlightAware. The company’s CEO Bob Jordan said the company “reached a decision point to significantly reduce our flying to catch up” in an apology to customers.
A total of 168 inbound and outbound Southwest flights at San Diego International Airport were canceled by Wednesday afternoon, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware. Southwest accounted for the bulk of the
174 overall flight cancellations to and from the airport.
“Our network is highly complex and the operation of the airline counts on all the pieces, especially aircraft and crews remaining in motion to where they're planned to go. With our large fleet of airplanes and flight crews out of position in dozens of locations. And after days of trying to operate as much of our full schedule across the busy holiday weekend, we reached a decision point to significantly reduce our flying to catch up,” Jordan said in a statement.
In a video statement, the airline's Jordan said Southwest is aiming to "be back on track before next week."
"Clearly, we need to double down on our already existing plans to upgrade systems for these extreme circumstances so that we never again face what's happening right now," Jordan said, noting he's been in touch with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about Southwest's customer service commitments
Although the airline has continued to blame winter weather for the problems, some industry watchers have suggested that aging scheduling software played a major role in the delays.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a statement calling the Southwest situation “unacceptable.”
“USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays and reports of lack of prompt customer service,” the department stated. “The department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan”
Impacted travelers can find more information a southwest.com/traveldisruption.