by Photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines via Twitter

The federal government said it would investigate Southwest Airlines after it delayed or canceled thousands of flights nationwide due to harsh weather disrupting holiday travel.

Southwest Airlines canceled nearly all departing flights from San Diego International and other Southern California airports through Dec. 31. 

“With consecutive days of extreme winter weather across our network behind us, continuing challenges are impacting our customers and employees in a significant way that is unacceptable,” Southwest said in a statement.

The federal Department of Transportation said it would examine Southwest Airlines to determine if the canceled flights were in the airline’s control, calling them “unacceptable.”

Southwest canceled 2,905 flights on Monday, or 71% of scheduled flights, according to a flight tracking website called Flight Aware. 

“USDOT is concerned by Southwest Airlines’ disproportionate and unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays as well as the failure to support customers experiencing a cancellation or delay properly,” the department said.

The budget airline issued an apology Monday, saying it was fully staffed late last week and prepared for the approaching Christmas weekend when severe weather swept across the continent.

“This forced daily changes to our flight schedule at a volume and magnitude that still has the tools our teams use to recover the airline operating at capacity,'' Southwest said. "This safety-first work is intentional, ongoing, and necessary to return to normal reliability, one that minimizes last-minute inconveniences.''

Southwest Airlines said it anticipates additional changes “with an already reduced level of flights as we approach the coming New Year holiday travel period. And we’re working to reach Customers whose travel plans will change with specific information and their available options.”. 

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