Southwest Airlines continues to experience operational woes, with flight delays exceeding 1,300 yesterday and no relief in sight.
Southwest Airlines Summer of Misery Continues With Over 1,300 Delays
This week is not shaping up well for Southwest Airlines. Per FlightAware:
- On Tuesday, August 17th Southwest Airlines cancelled 159 flights (roughly 4% of its schedule) and delayed 1,034 flights (29% of its schedule)
- On Wednesday, August 18th Southwest Airlines cancelled 134 flights (3% of its schedule) and delayed 1,358 flights (38% of its schedule)
Southwest blames the weather for this week’s meltdown:
Sorry to hear of the travel disruptions, Ann! Please don’t take it personally, as Mother Nature’s taken a toll on our operation today, with weather delays and cancellations across the network. You’re welcome to DM your confirmation # if we can be of further assistance! -Brenna https://t.co/mQmfkXW4oV
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) August 19, 2021
But there is more going on…
Casey Murray, President of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, told the Pittsburgh Gazette:
“The staffing shortage is across the board. On the pilot side, it’s a training backlog, Southwest came into the summer with very little margin.”
Similar to American Airlines, pilots returning from leave are required to re-train, which has created a bottleneck and essentially made it impossible for Southwest to recover from typical summer storms without cancelling or delaying hundreds of downline flights.
To complicate matters, federal limits on duty days means that already-stretched pilots and flight attendants cannot work on many delayed flights even if they wanted to.
On the flight attendant side, this has led to a revolt of sorts, with the union representing Southwest flight attendants penning an open letter to CEO Gary Kelly stating they are at a “breaking point” and adding a list of demands.
Southwest Airlines Is Not Alone…
While Southwest Airlines has been a leader in delayed flights this summer, it is hardly alone in its struggle to maintain stable operations. Live and Let’s Fly has already covered the operational woes and Spirit Airlines and American Airlines this summer (and even this week), but problems have spread to United, JetBlue, and particularly to regional carriers which are also experiencing a pilot shortage. In United’s case, the problem is not staffing but bad weather in Houston and runway construction in Newark.
On Tuesday, August 18th, the following cancellations and delays occurred:
- United Airlines cancelled 1 flight (0% of its schedule) and delayed 410 flights (22%)
- Envoy Air cancelled 73 flights (9%) and delayed 156 flights (21%)
- SkyWest cancelled 49 flights (2%) and delayed 515 flights (22%)
- Mesa cancelled 41 flights (7%) and delayed 145 flights (27%)
- Spirit cancelled 12 flights (1%) and delayed 109 flights (15%)
- JetBlue cancelled 10 flights (1%) and delayed 215 flights (25%)
- CommutAir cancelled 5 flights (2%) and delayed 120 flights (50%)
On Wednesday, August 19th, the following cancellations and delays occurred:
- United Airlines cancelled 44 flights (2% of its schedule) and delayed 596 flights (31%)
- Mesa cancelled 39 flights (6%) and delayed 236 flights (41%)
- Envoy Air cancelled 52 flights (5%) and delayed 222 flights (25%)
- CommutAir cancelled 26 flights (10%) and delayed 138 flights (53%)
- SkyWest cancelled 25 flights (1%) and delayed 638 flights (26%)
- JetBlue cancelled 3 flights (0%) and delayed 207 flights (23%)
- Delta cancelled 2 flights (0%) and delayed 281 flights (11%)
Put simply, it is a messy summer in the U.S. skies and you should plan accordingly.
Over 1,300 Southwest Airlines flights were delayed yesterday, a common trend this summer. Check your flight status before heading to the airport. If you do run into a delay, check Southwest.com or send a DM to Southwest’s Twitter team for faster service than telephoning reservations.
image: Stephen Keller / Southwest Airlines