If you’re near Dallas Love Field today, you’ll see a line of white pickets, but this isn’t a fence, it is angry Southwest Airlines pilots.
Southwest Airlines Pilots Are Angry And Tired…And Consumers Will Feel The Effect
1,300 pilots are expected to protest outside DAL airport today with a demand for a better union work contract. Pilots say they have been overworked and have not been properly compensated for their work. Importantly, pilots are tired of telling passengers, “I’m sorry” as Southwest faces another summer of delays and cancellations.
Pilots are sick of picking up a day turn and being extended to work another day (or two or three) involuntarily due to rolling delays, cancellations, and other roadblocks to operations. They also claim rest periods are not long enough.
As a result, fewer are picking up extra time. That leads to more delays and cancellations. Southwest Airlines is hardly alone, but is notably reliant upon pilots volunteering to work overtime in order to run operations this summer. If more pilots decide that picking up extra work is not worthwhile, this summer will turn into a nightmare for travelers on Southwest.
Captain Casey Murray, President of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, lamented:
“We’ve been under a lot of stress for the past year. What is going on, on a day-to-day basis, is a wasteful use of the pilot resources they have.”
Murray offered this sobering statistic: 30% of pilots are being reassigned everyday to fly other routes. Often, those are longer routes or at more inconvenient times, which disrupt planning, families, and lead to fatigue.
“Our contract is going to provide a framework to correct some of these inefficiencies we are actually seeing on a day-to-day basis and that our guests feel every day. I think all of our guests have seen where pilots aren’t in position. They are taking delays, cancellations at times.”
A pilot, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Live and Let’s Fly that the problem is not a contract alone, but that pilots really are exhausted and have stepped up like never before during this turbulent pilot shortage. However, there is a limit. Other airlines are experiencing the same problem.
Southwest Airlines pilots are upset and picketing today in Dallas over work conditions that are leading many to refuse overtime. That leads to flight delays, cancellations, and higher ticket prices. But until Southwest is able to hire and train more pilots, there is no end in sight for this problem.