Southwest Airlines cancels all flights from several US airports sparking investigation into delays

All of Southwest Airlines flights out of several airports across the US have been canceled leaving stranded passengers ‘in tears’.

Chaos has plagued the US over the holiday weekend as a catastrophic storm hit, sparking a mass cancellation of flights, with 70 per cent of the carrier’s scheduled flights being canceled in one day, according to Flight Aware. 

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has launched an investigation into the airline delays to determine if they were within the airline’s control, dubbing them ‘unacceptable’. 

In a statement, the department said: ‘USDOT is concerned by Southwest Airlines’ disproportionate and unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays as well as the failure to properly support customers experiencing a cancellation or delay. 

Tens of thousands of Americans have been affected over the past week (Pictured Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois)

Tens of thousands of Americans have been affected over the past week (Pictured Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois)

Passengers lined up by the Southwest Airlines counter at San Francisco International Airport

The storm has caused the cancellation of thousands of flights across the country and ruined Christmas for many Americans 

Thousands of passengers have found their flights canceled amid the extreme weather hitting the US 

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has launched an investigation into Southwest Airline delays

It added that it would ‘closely examine whether cancellations were controllable and whether Southwest is complying with its customer service plan as well as all other pertinent DOT rules.’

More than 3,800 US flights were canceled on Monday, including 2,800 operated by Southwest. Delays were reported for more than 7,100 US flight departures and arrivals overall. 

On Christmas Day, the operator canceled 42 per cent of its flights, a total of 1,635.  

Southwest Airline flights at Hollywood Burbank, Phoenix Sky Harbor International, and San Diego Airport have virtually all been canceled, according to reports. 

It is anticipated that the disruption could continue into the New Year holiday travel period at the end of this week, with some reports suggesting that all flights from Hollywood Burbank Airport operated by the airline are canceled until December 31.  

The volume of cancelations and delays by Southwest was led by the extreme weather, caused by an Arctic blast coupled with a massive winter storm called Elliott sweeping over much of the US, and a lacked of preparedness by the airline. 

Southwest has a hub of planes in Chicago and Denver, but both of those areas were significantly affected by the storm, which led to planes freezing.

An information board is seen by the Southwest Airlines counter at San Francisco International Airport

The company’s CEO told staff that it could take days to get ‘back on track’ as the airline struggles with staffing issues and the winter storm (Pictured Buffalo, New York) 

Crew members are scattered and stuck in different areas of the country as more flights are cancelled and delayed (Pictured – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport) 

Thousands of people were left stranded inside the airport on Friday and all the hotels nearby are fully booked. The runways at the airport reopened on the same day.

Photos showed travelers with blankets as they slept on chairs and other open areas. 

Many would-be passengers have taken to Twitter to share their frustration. 

One said: ‘Two days, two cancelled flights, no notifications, no way to contact through web, phone or email. Family of four missed San Diego holiday and family. Southwest continues to blame the weather. All other airlines made it.’ 

Another added that they were ‘praying for a miracle’ after a family member’s flight to her daughter’s wedding was canceled. 

And another said: ‘I had a six hour drive, waited an hour for my rental car. Southwest I am highly disappointed in you. I might be done with you after this.’ 

Many who have tried to reach the airline on the phone have been waiting on hold for several hours in the hope of speaking with a member of staff. 

One person tweeted: ‘I’ve been on hold for four hours to try and get a refund,’ while others have reported wait times of up to six hours on the phone. People have also shared videos of long lines at airports across the country and images of mounds of luggage.

Travellers have experienced mass delays at airports across the country due to the extreme weather conditions (Pictured – Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport in New York)

Passengers queue up for security checks at Detroit Metro Airport in Michigan amid huge delays 

The flight was traveling to San Francisco from Atlanta when the crew received the notification about the engine (stock image)

About 185 passengers and six crew members were onboard. Passengers were dropped off at Nashville International Airport (pictured) and were delayed by more than three hours while waiting for another plane

Travelers at Denver national Airport wait for baggage as hundreds of flights are cancele

Union representatives claimed that flight attendants and other crew members are stuck in different states across the US after a series of cancellations. 

The airline doesn’t have their precise locations since stranded workers took matters into their own hands and booked their own accommodations when the company failed to help in a timely manner. 

‘We have crews stuck, and scheduling doesn’t know where they are,’ Casey Murray, a union representative for the airlines said. 

The CEO confirmed that the company’s scheduling platforms are not advanced enough for the current crisis. 

Delta airlines is the second US-based major airline with the most cancellations. About 484 cancelations were reported by the airline on Monday and an additional 570 delays. 

Airports in Denver, Atlanta, Chicago and Las Vegas are facing the most cancellations  and delays. 

Tens of thousands of Americans have been affected over the past week. Passengers have been forced to sleep on the floor as some airports closed their runways ‘indefinitely,’ including in Seattle-Tacoma where a storm hit on December 23.

Jay McVay, a spokesperson for Southwest, blamed the recent winter storm for the cancellations at a news conference at Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport on Monday evening. 

‘As the storm continued to sweep across the country, it continued to impact many of our larger stations and so the cancellations just compiled one after another to 100 to 150 to 1,000,’ he said. 

‘With those cancellations and as a result, we end up with flight crews and airplanes that are out of place and not in the cities that they need to be in to continue to run our operations.

‘We will do everything that we need to do to right the challenges that we’ve had right now,’ he said, including ‘hotels, ride assistance, vans … rental cars to try and make sure these folks get home as quickly as possible.’

Bob Jordan, CEO of Southwest, told employees earlier this week that it could take days for the airline to resume normal operations.

‘The winter storm was unprecedented all across our network,’ Jordan said in a statement obtained by the Wall Street Journal. ‘And we’ve got fallout from that — just trying to get the network back to normal.’ 

Travelers search through mountains of luggage at the baggage claim at Midway Airport, in Chicago

Travellers have been separated from their luggage as chaos continues throughout the US 

Frustrated would-be passengers have shared images online of the ongoing chaos at several airports

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport closed all of its runways and all flights are canceled due to freezing rain on Friday

Passengers were forced to sleep on the floor at Seattle airport  after the runways were closed

In a statement, the Dallas-based airline cited ‘consecutive days of extreme winter weather’ as the culprit.

‘Challenges are impacting our customers and employees in a significant way that is unacceptable,’ the statement read. 

A continuous winter storm continues to envelop much of the United States, bringing record-breaking low temperatures for 200 million Americans, blinding blizzards, freezing rain and flooding.

The storm that arrived last week stretched from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande along the Mexican border. 

In response to the inclement weather, President Joe Biden said: ‘This is a really serious weather alert. Please take this storm extremely seriously.’

The NWS warned: ‘In some areas, being outdoors could lead to frostbite in minutes.’

MailOnline has contacted Southwest Airlines and Hollywood Burbank Airport for comment. Southwest Airlines cancels all flights from several US airports sparking investigation into delays

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