A holiday nightmare played out in airports across the country over the weekend amid a powerful winter storm, but Southwest Airlines handled it worse than other operators.
A video shared by Twitter user @apieceofpauline shows dozens of pieces of piled up luggage at Sacramento International Airport in California Monday night.
“After 3 cancelled flights and 7.5hrs , we made it home from San Diego. Driving wouldve only taken 8,” she tweeted alongside the video. “Ive never seen anything like what we just experienced with @SouthwestAir. Also, we have no luggage. But at least were home?”
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.”