https://www.theepochtimes.com/biden-says-white-house-working-to-hold-airlines-accountable-over-flight-cancellations_4947766.html

President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that his administration will investigate airlines following the mass cancelation of flights over the past weekend amid severe winter weather.

Numerous flights were canceled across the United States over the past weekend as well as Monday and Tuesday, according to tracking service FlightAware.com. Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines said that it would cancel more flights this week, drawing pushback from the Department of Transportation.

“Thousands of flights nationwide have been canceled around the holidays. Our Administration is working to ensure airlines are held accountable,” Biden wrote on Twitter, calling on customers who were impacted by the cancelations to go to the Department of Transportation’s website to see whether they can get compensation. Biden did not specifically mention which airlines could be targeted.

On Monday, Southwest canceled about 2,900 flights, while on Tuesday, FlightAware.com data shows the Dallas-based carrier canceled another 680 flights. Further triggering controversy, Southwest’s CEO told the Wall Street Journal Monday that “we’ll have another tough day tomorrow as we work our way out of this,” and it’s “the largest-scale event that I’ve ever seen.”

The airline said Monday that it will fly approximately one-third of its schedule for the next week as it recovers its operations. The company has a more aggressive schedule than most other U.S. airlines and tighter turnaround times to accommodate its network that connects vast swathes of the country.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked on the tarmac after being grounded, at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, Calif., on March 28, 2019. (Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

“Southwest is using outdated technology and processes, really from the 90s, that can’t keep up with the network complexity today,” said Casey Murray, president of Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, according to Reuters.

But Southwest told news outlets that a winter storm and arctic weather slammed two of its hubs in Denver and Chicago. It noted that the firm did not have the capacity to reschedule the thousands of flights that were scrapped.

Kyle Potter, executive editor of Thrifty Traveler, said that rescheduling thousands of flights is a complex endeavor after weather delays. However, many areas across the United States have seen weather conditions improve, leading Potter to call it a “full-blown meltdown.”

“This is really as bad as it gets for an airline,” Potter said. “We’ve seen this again and again over the course of the last year or so, when airlines really just struggle especially after a storm, but there’s pretty clear skies across the country.”

Other than Southwest, a number of other major airlines canceled trips last week and over the past weekend due to bad weather. Rail service Amtrak also announced the cancelation of some trips.

Around that time, the Federal Aviation Administration imposed ground stops or delays at several U.S. airports due to the weather.

Videos

Amid the cancellations and delays, travelers have been posting videos and images on social media of the chaos. One video showed thousands of pieces of luggage lined up in a row at the baggage claim area.

winter-us-flights
An American Airlines plane is de-iced as high winds whip around 7.5 inches of new snow at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Dec. 22, 2022. (David Joles/Star Tribune via AP)

Voice actress Grey DeLisle wrote to Southwest Airlines: “Flight 1824 from Nashville to Burbank was canceled due to Elliot and we haven’t received any rebooking! The kids’ daddy has already missed Christmas now and his luggage is lost with medication in it! Customer Service line busy. Help!”

“My brothers Southwest Airlines flight out of Philly back to El Paso was canceled today and the best they could do was out of Baltimore on Tuesday morning! Nothing anyone could do but so much travel insanity,” wrote another Twitter user named Alex Gervasi.

Some luggage was left unclaimed at William P. Hobby Airport in Houston for two days, while many passengers arrived unable to locate their bags, local media reported.

Madeline Howard said on Twitter she was told by Southwest that her luggage was flying to a different airport despite her flight having been canceled.

The Transportation Department, in a statement, described Southwest’s cancellations, delays, and customer service “unacceptable” and signaled it would take action. “The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan,” it said.

As of Tuesday, Southwest stock dropped by more than 6 percentage points to $33.90 per share.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips

Breaking News Reporter

Jack Phillips is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in New York. He covers breaking news.

You Might Like
Learn more about RevenueStripe...