DALLAS ( Associated Press) — Passengers relying on Southwest Airlines to get home faced another wave of canceled flights Wednesday and the federal government sought to help reimburse customers for unexpected expenses caused by the airline’s collapse. But the pressure increased.
Weary Southwest travelers were trying to find seats on other airlines or rent cars to get to their destinations, but many remained stranded. The airline’s CEO said that it is possible that the flight schedule may return to normal next week.
Adontis Barber, a 34-year-old jazz pianist from Kansas City, Missouri, was camping outside the city’s airport after his Southwest flight was canceled Saturday and wondering if he would be able to make it to Washington, D.C. Can do year’s job.
“I give up,” he said. “I’m starting to feel homeless.”
By the time evening rolled around the East Coast, about 80% of all flights canceled in the United States on Wednesday were to the Southwest, according to the FlightAware flight monitoring service.
Other airlines reeled from fierce winter storms that battered large areas of the country over the weekend but not the Southwest, which canceled 2,500 flights on Wednesday and 2,300 on Thursday.
The Dallas airline was affected by several factors, including an outdated crew scheduling system and a network design that allowed cancellations in one area to spread rapidly across the country. Those weaknesses are not new and helped spark a similar Southwest failure in October 2021.
The federal government is now investigating what happened to Southwest, which carries more passengers within the United States than any other airline.
In a video posted Tuesday by Southwest, CEO Robert Jordan says the airline will operate several days with reduced hours but hopes to be “back on track before next week.”
Hollingsworth reported from Kansas City, Missouri. Thalia Beatty in New York contributed to this report.