Southwest Airlines Says ‘Normal’ Service to Return Tomorrow After Eight-Day Disruption

After a week-long meltdown which has crippled the busiest travel season of the year, caused thousands of flights to be cancelled, and amplified calls for further regulation and investigation, Southwest Airlines has announced that their “normal” flight schedule will return tomorrow, December 30.

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Credit: Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines has issued a press release and sent out emails to passengers scheduled for flights tomorrow that “normal operations” will resume tomorrow and a “full schedule” is slated. The airline has cancelled over 15,000 flights as of today per CNN, accounting for more than 80% of flights cancelled nationwide.

The full statement is as follows:

While Southwest continues to operate roughly one third of its schedule for Thursday, Dec. 29, we plan to return to normal operations with minimal disruptions on Friday, Dec. 30.

We are encouraged by the progress we’ve made to realign Crew, their schedules, and our fleet. With another holiday weekend full of important connections for our valued Customers and Employees, we are eager to return to a state of normalcy.

We know even our deepest apologies – to our Customers, to our Employees, and to all affected through this disruption – only go so far.

We’ve set up a page at Southwest.com/traveldisruption for Customers to submit refund and reimbursement requests for meals, hotel, and alternate transportation; as well as to connect Customers to their baggage.

We have much work ahead of us, including investing in new solutions to manage wide-scale disruptions.

We aim to serve our Customers and Employees with our legendary levels of Southwest Hospitality and reliability again very soon.

Southwest’s troubles began last week as a massive winter cyclone swept across America, impacting in particular two of its major hubs in Chicago and Denver. With Southwest’s unique point-to-point operating system, flight delays and cancellations cascade easily. But the storm has long since passed, and the issue quickly became their extremely outdated employee scheduling system, which did not actively track where crew members were on flights and automatically assumed where each crew member was currently located whether the flight flew or not. As a result, thousands of employees spent countless hours manually calling the airline’s scheduling department to inform on where they were to get flights started.

Speaking on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg vowed to hold Southwest accountable and to ensure passengers affected are compensated fairly for their delays as well as any reasonable charges for alternate transport or accommodations during the meltdown.

Out of 118 cancelled flights to Orlando International Airport today, 111 of those were from Southwest. Similarly at Los Angeles International Airport, 99 of 107 cancellations were from Southwest, both according to FlightAware.

Southwest had previously stated normal operations would resume on Sunday, January 1, leaving them slightly ahead of schedule.

Was your holiday season affected by the madness at Southwest Airlines this past week? Did you miss out on a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland? Let us know in the comments below!

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