USDOT to examine Southwest Airlines as flight cancelations continue

The U.S. Department of Transportation said they will hold Southwest Airlines accountable after thousands of flights were canceled, leaving people stranded for days.

Southwest Airlines said they’re working to recover operations after consecutive days of extreme winter weather. They also said they’ve decided to reduce their schedule by flying roughly a third of their schedule for the next several days.

"With those cancelations and as a result we end up with flight crews and airplanes that are out of place," Southwest Airlines Senior Director Jay McVay said.

Southwest Airlines said when a flight is canceled, the crew must call the scheduling department to find out what to do next. The airline’s COO said the crew scheduling system couldn’t keep up.

"So not so much technology as it was sheer manpower to answer all of these calls to reassign pilots and flight attendants to the flights they needed to be on," McVay said.


The U.S. Department of Transportation is examining whether cancelations were controllable, and if Southwest Airlines is complying with their customer service plan. They said the airline is responsible for taking care of their customers and all their workers and expects them to do right by them.

Meanwhile, many people have gone ahead and found different ways to get home. Jose Gomez said he couldn’t wait. He was stuck in New York with his family, so they’re on a 26-hour bus ride with about 45 other people trying to get back to Austin.

"You got to make the most of it right, so it’s been, we left so late last night we slept for five, six hours, super uncomfortable, but it hasn’t been bad. It’s a bus ride, you make what it is," Gomez said. "Luckily, we’re safe, and we’re going to be able to make it home in 24 hours."

Tara Carter said she was fed up with the lines and not being able to get a hold of someone on the phone, so she booked a flight with another airline.

"Very disappointed, stressed out, not knowing what to do because you see it on tv, but actually being in it and deal with it, it's a totally different story, and it's stressful, very stressful," Carter said.

Southwest Airlines said if you’re traveling through Jan. 2, you can rebook your flight for free. If you want a refund, click here.

If you don’t have your luggage, a representative for Southwest Airlines said you can have it delivered to any address for free. The Southwest Team will be contacting customers over the coming days to make arrangements for delivery.