Southwest Airlines Resumes Normal Flight Operations After Week From Hell

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Friday, Dec 30, 2022 - 12:45 PM

Southwest Airlines' operational meltdown for the past week appears to be normalizing on Friday with minimal disruptions. 

As of 0645 ET, only 39 of Southwest's flights had been canceled, according to the flight-tracking service website FlightAware

Thursday appears to be the last day of the Southwest crisis when about 2,350 flights, or 60% of the airline's schedule, were canceled. FlightAware shows the budget airline scrapped more than 15,000 flights over the past week, stranding tens of thousands of passengers at airports across the country. 

The company issued numerous apologies for the worst operational mishaps in its five decades of existence. The latest apology was released Thursday: 

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 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.

The systemwide chaos started last week when the airline declared a "state of operational emergency" at its Denver Airport hub after "an unusually high number" of employee absences ahead of Christmas. 

A combination of staffing shortages, the winter storm, an antiquated crew-scheduling system, and a network that allowed cancellations in one region to spread throughout all other airports led to the travel mess. 

On Thursday, Chief Commercial Officer Ryan Green told reporters that disruptions "would certainly impact the fourth quarter." A similar incident in October 2021 cost the airline $75 million. Meanwhile, Cowen analyst Helane Becker told Bloomberg TV on Wednesday that the fourth quarter hit could be "in the hundreds of millions of dollars range." 

Southwest faces significant customer service challenges. First, it must repair trust with customers. But even before that, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have signaled that they will investigate Southwest.