Southwest ‘meltdown’ affects students’ and staff’s winter break plans


Ella Mancuso, Feature Editor

This past December, Americans prepared to travel to destinations all over the world for winter break vacation, although Southwest Airlines had different intentions. Due to staff shortages and weather conditions in the northern regions of the country, Southwest canceled thousands of flights, leaving passengers stranded all over the country, and travel plans ruined for millions of Americans, including staff members and students at DGN.

Due to the abundance of cancellations, passengers were left to fend for themselves, with little to no assistance from airline companies. According to The New York Times, delays and cancellations forced people to stand in long customer service lines for hours, sit in planes on the tarmac for long periods of time, and sleep on airport floors overnight.

“My family and I were affected by flight cancellations because we had plans to spend winter break in Mexico, but on the morning that our flight was scheduled, it was canceled by Southwest. The only flights we could find that could get us there the quickest were out of Austin, Texas. We decided to drive 14 hours to Texas where we were finally able to get on a plane. We still made it to Mexico, but we were about 2 days late to our resort reservations,” senior Elizabeth Decero said.

For some, canceling vacation all together was not an option. Unphased by airlines’ failure to comply, families like Decero’s decided to drive to their destinations in an effort to keep their vacation plans intact despite Southwest’s failure.

“We were supposed to leave for our flight to Florida, but our flight got canceled. We decided to drive down instead of waiting for a flight to become available. It was annoying because some of my family members were able to make their flights because they were not delayed. We were still able to have a fun vacation, but it was just annoying it took a few extra days, “ senior Mallory Saranecki said.

Due to the flight cancellations and delays, people unaffected helped accommodate those whose plans were altered by Southwest Airlines.

“My cousins were flying from San Antonio, Texas to Detroit, Michigan, and had a layover in Chicago. Their flight home to Detroit got canceled, and they we’re stranded in Chicago, so they stayed with us for 3 days while they waited for a flight home to become available,” senior Maddie Maci said. “It was annoying and inconvenient because they weren’t supposed to stay with us, and ended up spending Christmas.”

Despite the nationwide cancellations, some were able to get on flights and arrive in their destinations with no hassle.

“I flew to Arizona the first week of break. We stayed in Phoenix until Christmas Eve. My husband and I were very fortunate because both our Southwest flights were on time- no delays. We were so lucky,” English teacher Kathy Smith said. “I know my friend had a 20 hour delay flying Southwest from the same airport on Christmas Eve. She was put through a terrible experience,” Smith said.

As a consequence of the cancellations, Southwest is experiencing backlash and is even being sued by passengers who were not compensated for their flight issues. Southwest vowed to give those affected by the ‘meltdown’ 25,000 ‘Rapid Rewards’ points as compensation, which is equal to more than $300 in flight vouchers; Southwest C.E.O. Bob Jordan shows remorse for the various issues caused by the airline.

Jordan told Reuters, “There are a lot of reasons that this happened, but it’s on me at the end of the day. It’s on me to not let this happen again and to rebuild trust with our employees and rebuild trust with our customers, and we will do exactly that. I have put everything on the table here because it (the ‘meltdown’) just can’t happen again.”