A holiday nightmare played out in airports across the country over the weekend as stranded travelers searched for lost luggage and waited in hours-long lines to get any assistance.
A video shared by Twitter user @KwySan on Tuesday shows hundreds of pieces of luggage sitting at Orlando International Airport in Florida, on “just 1 floor of 3.” They said that airport staff had alphabetized the bags, and Southwest Airlines staff was helping customers find them.
A severe and widespread winter storm caused thousands of delayed and canceled flights over the weekend. Southwest Airlines appears to have imploded under the scheduling chaos, canceling far more flights than any other airline.
The U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday night tweeted that it was “concerned by Southwests unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service.”
The agency said it would “examine whether cancellations were controllable,” i.e. not directly caused by weather, and whether that airline is complying with its customer service plan.
In a statement on Tuesday, the airline said it is addressing the “wide-scale disruption” by repositioning its crews and fleet.
“We were fully staffed and prepared for the approaching holiday weekend when the severe weather swept across the continent,” the airline said. The weather delays caused “daily changes of an unprecedented volume and magnitude to our flight schedule and the tools our teams use to recover the airline remain at capacity.”
Southwest said it would be operating on a “reduced schedule by flying roughly one third of our schedule for the next several days.”