Over the holidays, Southwest Airlines became the subject of public outrage as massive numbers of flights are suddenly subject to cancellation. The Dept. of Transportation announces it will launch an investigation to figure out what went so wrong. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL-20),Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-42), and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) offer comments on the affair.
Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick called the debacle "unacceptable," highlighting 85 cancellations in Fort Lauderdale alone.
"The collapse of their flight schedule has left customers, families, and hardworking Southwest employees stranded at airports over the holiday travel period. Additionally, I am deeply troubled by reports of Southwest’s lack of prompt customer service to help passengers get to their destinations," said Cherfilus-McCormick, commending Dept. of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg's intention to investigate Southwest Airlines "and ensure this failure does not happen again."
Similarly, Sen. Scott also calls the mass cancellations "unacceptable." By contrast, he decries the apparent lack of planning by Southwest on how to respond, especially in regards to the money customers have spent.
"The news I'm hearing from Floridians about canceled flights, ruined plans & total lack of communication from @SouthwestAir is unacceptable. Southwest received BILLIONS from taxpayers & we need answers: What's your plan to help customers quickly get home/refunds/vouchers," asked Sen. Scott.
The news I'm hearing from Floridians about canceled flights, ruined plans & total lack of communication from @SouthwestAir is unacceptable. Southwest received BILLIONS from taxpayers & we need answers:
What's your plan to help customers quickly get home/refunds/vouchers? https://t.co/5lx42Zdqr0
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) December 27, 2022
Meanwhile, Rep. Eskamani demands the Dept. of Transportation also look into how well Southwest "treats and pays their workers too," adding "in fact, please do that for ALL airlines."
While you're there, check on how @SouthwestAir treats and pays their workers too -- in fact, please do that for ALL airlines. https://t.co/c1zGWdO2A6
— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) December 27, 2022
While the massive winter storm played a role in Southwest's failure, it does not appear to adequately explain why other airlines are able to recover much more quickly.
NPR suggests that the software of the airline is the larger problem. Not only is the software suggested to be out of date, Southwest makes use of a "point to point" system rather than the more conventional "hub and spoke" used by most airlines. Essentially, each flight is routed and scheduled individually as opposed to being routed and scheduled through several major airports.