October 23, 2021

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Disgruntled Customers Sound Off on Southwest Airlines Amid Cancellations, Claim No Refunds or Answers: ‘This Is Entirely Self-Inflicted’


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Southwest Airlines made headlines on Monday after over 1,800 flights had been cancelled since the weekend.

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The airline posted a note to its Twitter and Facebook pages where it was unsurprisingly met with angry responses from disgruntled and affected customers.

“ATC issues and disruptive weather have resulted in a high volume of cancellations throughout the weekend while we work to recover our operation,” the company said, citing the weather and performance issues as the primary reason for flight cancellations.

Related: Southwest Airlines Cancels 1,800 Flights, Blames Staffing Problems and Bad Weather

Many suggested that the mass cancellations had to do with the airline’s recent vaccine mandate, which states that all employees of the company must be vaccinated by December 8, 2021.

“Southwest Airlines must join our industry peers in complying with the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination directive,” Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said at the time.

It is plausible that lack of staffing due to rumored strikes and walk outs could be the reason for the mass cancellations.

Many on Twitter claimed that the airline was not offering immediate refunds or vouchers, which is something many said that the company is not required to do if flights are involuntarily cancelled due to weather or other external circumstances. 

“Southwest does its best to operate flights as scheduled. Sometimes, events beyond our control or situations we could not anticipate prevent us from doing so,” the airline’s website states. “In order to mitigate Customer inconveniences, we provide the following assistance in the event a flight is delayed, canceled, or diverted: Rebooking on the next available Southwest flight(s) with seats available to your ticketed destination; A refund of the unused portion of your Southwest ticket.”

Customers called for the airline to “own up and take responsibility” over the situation and called the cancellations both “self-inflicted” and a “PR nightmare.”

Related: Southwest Pilots’ Union Sues Airline Over COVID-19 Response

However SWAPA, the pilot union that represents Soutwest’s pilots, claims that the unrest with the new vaccine mandate and the ongoing flight cancellations are not related.

“SWAPA is aware of operational difficulties affecting Southwest Airlines today due to a number of issues, but we can say with confidence that our Pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions. Our Pilots will continue to overcome SWA management’s poor planning, as well as any external operational challenges, and remain the most productive Pilots in the world. They will continue to be focused on their highest priority — safety,” the organization said in a statement on Saturday. “SWAPA Pilots are true professionals and will always maintain the highest level of responsibility to their crews, their passengers, and our airline.”

The union also sued Southwest Airlines last month due to the company’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, claiming that the company altered pay and labor conditions during the travel slump.

“Southwest remains committed to pilots’ health and welfare and to working with SWAPA, and our other union partners, as we continue navigating the challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic,” Southwest’s Vice President for labor relations Russell McCrady said at the time in response.

Southwest Airlines was down 3.68% from the day prior as of late Monday afternoon.





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