Thousands of Southwest flights canceled over the weekend

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Southwest Airlines
Credit: WINK News

From Colorado to Texas to right here in Southwest Florida, flights all across the country have been canceled. On Sunday, more than 1,000 Southwest flights were canceled. The day before, 800 flights were also canceled.

According to a flight-tracking website, these cancellations account for about a quarter of the airline’s total flights that were scheduled.

The cancellations at Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) changed some people’s entire vacations. Two brothers missed out on surprising their dad for his birthday because their flight was delayed.

A couple of people even had to cut their vacations short by a day just to secure a flight. Those who came to SWFL to relax were met with stress and frustration at the airport.

Seeing that your flight is on time is a blessing and usually a welcomed sight. But few flying Southwest this weekend got to enjoy this sight.

Diane Schroeder is a traveler from Oklahoma. “We got the text message from 1 a.m. last night that our flight had been totally canceled,” Diane said.

Diane and her husband, Eric, are visiting from Oklahoma but they weren’t vacationing in SWFL. They were actually in Tampa.

The pair told WINK News there was a two-hour wait by phone. And, upon entering the Tampa airport, they were not able to get a flight from Tampa to Oklahoma City.

“We were still looking on our own and found the flight out of here, this airport here in Fort Myers that would get us to Oklahoma City from Houston. And we drove two hours here,” Eric said.

Their flight was included in the more than 1,000 Southwest Airlines flights canceled this weekend alone.

According to Southwest Airlines, the cancellations and delays were caused by a combination of air traffic control issues and weather challenges at Florida airports. These challenges began to surface on Friday.

Mike Graham is from Atlanta. “We were actually sitting on the runway longer between Atlanta and here than we were actually in the air,” Graham said.

“It’s been frustrating all day because we’ve been really worried about is this flight going to actually happen,” said Diane.

The Schroeders were able to board their flight while staying cautiously optimistic.

“I just want to get home. Just want to get in my own bed tonight and I’ll be a happy camper,” said Eric.

Southwest Airlines says it is trying its best to get people back home as quickly as possible.

In a statement, they also apologized for the disruption this has caused. You can read  the full statement below:

“We experienced weather challenges in our Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, challenges that were compounded by unexpected air traffic control issues in the same region, triggering delays and prompting significant cancellations for us beginning Friday evening. We’ve continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and Crews repositioned to take care of our Customers. With fewer frequencies between cities in our current schedule, recovering during operational challenges is more difficult and prolonged. We’re working diligently to accommodate our Customers as quickly as possible, and we are grateful for their patience. We’re offering Customers added flexibility to explore self-service rebooking options on, where they can get updates on the status of their travel. We know the frustration flight cancellations are creating for our Customers and Employees and we apologize, and we again thank everyone for patience as we work first to be safe, and second to be as quick as possible in solving disrupted plans.”

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association also released a statement that says, in part, “we can say with confidence our pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions.”

You can read the full statement below:

“SWAPA is aware of operational difficulties affecting Southwest Airlines today due to a number of issues, but we can say with confidence that our Pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions. Our Pilots will continue to overcome SWA management’s poor planning, as well as any external operational challenges, and remain the most productive Pilots in the world. They will continue to be focused on their highest priority — safety. SWAPA Pilots are true professionals and will always maintain the highest level of responsibility to their crews, their passengers, and our airline.”

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