Nationwide winter storms and high demand made holiday travel difficult for many as flights got delayed and even canceled. But Southwest Airlines took the biggest hit.

On Monday, the airline canceled more than 2,900 flights, which accounted for 70% of its itinerary, and it canceled more than 2,500 flights, nearly 63% of its docket, on Tuesday, according to FlightAware.

In comparison, Spirit Airlines, the second American airline on the list, canceled 85 flights.

“Our biggest issue at this time is getting our crews and our aircraft in the right places,” Chris Perry, a Southwest spokesman, said in an email to The New York Times.

President Joe Biden took to Twitter to comment on the situation: “Our Administration is working to ensure airlines are held accountable,” he said, and reminded customers that they could be entitled to compensation.

Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation is looking into the wide number of cancellations and delays rolled out by Southwest.

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

The agency said it will “closely examine whether cancellations were controllable and whether Southwest is complying with its customer service plan as well as all other pertinent DOT rules.”

Utah family stranded in Florida for days due to flight cancellations

As for Southwest, it isn’t done canceling flights — CEO Bob Jordan told The Wall Street Journal that the company will reduce its operations to give crew members enough time to be in the right places.

“We had a tough day today. In all likelihood we’ll have another tough day tomorrow as we work our way out of this,” Jordan said in an interview Monday. “This is the largest scale event that I’ve ever seen.”

View Comments

This isn’t the first time Southwest has faced a situation like this. According to CNN, in October 2021, the airline canceled over 2,000 flights over the span of four days.

Tessa Derry, 15, lays on the ground while her family tries to locate lost luggage after arriving on a flight from Seattle to Salt Lake International Airport in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

If you’re bumped from a flight, what are your rights?

Most times, a flight will have a few “no-shows” who free up space, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. But there are times when the flight is overbooked and all of the passengers show up. In this case, passengers are bumped. Either the airline will ask for volunteers to give up their seats for a voucher or a free ticket or they may simply deny a seat to a passenger, as I previously reported.

A passenger is entitled to compensation if bumped from a flight without volunteering. Airlines are required to provide 400% of the one-way fare as compensation, limited to $1,500, if the delay is over two hours.

What airlines are offering winter weather waivers?

Airports across the U.S. are dealing with winter weather. Here is a list of airlines that have issued fee waivers, as I previously reported.

  • United Airlines last week offered winter weather waivers for airports on the East Coast, Texas, the Central and Northwest U.S., and the Midwest. Meanwhile, change fees and fare differences will be waived.
  • American Airlines issued a warning for over 30 airports in the Northeast U.S. and nearly 30 in the Midwest.
  • Southwest Airlines also issued waivers for rebooking in similar regions. Click here for the complete list of airports.
  • Spirit Airlines also issued winter weather waivers for airports in the Midwest and Northeast U.S. Click here for more details.
Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.