There was a travel nightmare over the weekend for tens of thousands of passengers after Southwest Airlines canceled about 30% of its scheduled flights on Sunday alone. The world’s largest low-cost carrier shut down more than 2000 flights from Friday through Sunday, causing disruptions from coast to coast and leaving customers in limbo.
According to FlightAware, Southwest’s travel chaos continued through the holiday Monday, as one of every 10 flights was nixed.
David Slotnick is a senior aviation business reporter for The Points Guy, a travel website. He says the airline blames the network meltdown on air traffic control problems, limited staffing, and bad weather. “Air travel is so complicated if just one piece falls in the wrong place, it can throw the whole system off,” said Slotnick. “Aircraft and crews were just out of place, so it just led to this cascade of delays that just got worse.”
In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration said there had been no air traffic control staffing issues since Friday, but Slotnick says the issues Southwest experienced Friday snowballed over the weekend.
It’s been a tough year for the airline, which reported the greatest percentage of canceled flights of any of the nation’s four major airlines in June and July, according to the flight-tracking service Cirium; however, similar problems can impact any airline.
“I think this is a bad example and bad time right now, but people have had these issues on Delta, United and American,” said Slotnick.
With the busy holiday travel season ahead, Southwest is considering cutting down on its fall schedule.