Southwest Airlines canceled three quarters of its flights in and out of Denver International Airport Monday causing a post Christmas nightmare and a storm of headaches for passengers and employees during the busy holiday season. Nationwide, the airline canceled 2907 flights.
In response to the travel nightmare, the Department of Transportation on Monday night responded that it is ‘concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service.’ USDOT said in a tweet.
Southwest Airlines has pointed to the winter stormas the source of the problems but the Department of Transportation tweeted it will look into if the cancellations were ‘controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.’
Meanwhile passengers have been juggling the chaos of cancelled flights while trying to get home after Christmas. Denver7 spoke to some passengers who missed holiday plans with family and are struggling to locate their luggage.
"They cancelled our flight. that was 4 days ago. we called and called and no one's returned a phone call. No idea where our bags are at." A passenger said.
Denver7 reporter Rob Harris was at DIA Monday and noted a sea of luggage it the terminal and noted some of the bags have made it to their final destination without owners.
Stuck passengers waited in lines for hours to check on luggage at the baggage claim office.
Southwest Airlines declined an interview with Denver7’s Harris, but in a statement on its website Southwest apologized to customers.
With consecutive days of extreme winter weather across our network behind us, continuing challenges are impacting our Customers and Employees in a significant way that is unacceptable. We’re working with Safety at the forefront to urgently address wide-scale disruption by rebalancing the airline and repositioning Crews and our fleet ultimately to best serve all who plan to travel with us.
But the union representing Southwest flight attendants said they have been telling the airline for a while that it needed to update its crew scheduling system.
This is what the line for the baggage claim office for Southwest is looking like right now at DIA. Just talked to a guy coming out of the office, he said it took him four hours to make it through the line. pic.twitter.com/6pFKoKd3G2— Rob Harris (@robharristv) December 27, 2022
“Our operations are like dominoes. Once that one domino falls, all the other dominoes follow.” said Lyn Montgomery, President & Lead Negotiator Transport Workers Union Local 556 at Southwest Airlines.
“Because even if you have a flight leaving from a good weather station, it might have been a plane or a crew that was coming from one of those stations affected by the weather. Therefore it's going to affect everywhere that Southwest Airlines flies to.”
She said the bad winter weather situation hit Southwest Airlines harder than other airlines.
At DIA, No other airline even comes close in terms of flight cancellations. Denver7 checked with Flightware and United and Frontier Airlines each canceled 4 percent of their flights in and out of Denver on Monday.
American Airlines did not have a single cancellation.
"The last few days have been absolutely horrible days for Southwest Airlines flight attendants. Some of the worst in our history." Montgomery said.