Southwest Airlines Cancels Hundreds More Flights as Airport Chaos Continues

Southwest Airlines canceled hundreds more flights on Monday, continuing the travel chaos caused by mass cancelations and delays over the weekend.

Around 350 flights were canceled by Southwest on Monday, amounting to 10 percent of its schedule, according to flight tracker FlightAware, while another 580 flights were delayed, at the time of writing.

It came after the airline canceled more than 1,000 flights on Sunday, disrupting the travel plans of thousands of customers. More than 800 flights were canceled on Saturday.

"We have a closer to normal operation today, navigating some new weather across our system," a Southwest Airlines spokesperson told Newsweek.

"To recap the weekend cancellations, the bad weather and ATC issues in Florida, a large operation for us, on Friday night created significant flight disruptions throughout our network and we spent the weekend working to recover from the high number of displaced Crews and aircraft.

"Although we have some new weather in parts of our system, today's operation has vastly improved from the weekend, with a much smaller number of cancellations linked to our weekend recovery efforts. We appreciate our customer and employee patience as we worked to reset our schedule."

If your travel was affected, please explore self-service rebooking options by checking your flight status on https://t.co/GiF91yLJcx. (2/2)

— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) October 9, 2021

In a tweet at the weekend, the airline had blamed the cancellations and delays on air traffic control issues and weather.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) responded in a tweet on Sunday that said "no FAA air traffic staffing shortages have been reported since Friday."

The tweet didn't mention Southwest Airlines, but added: "Flight delays & cancellations occurred for a few hours Friday PM due to widespread severe weather, military training, & limited staffing in one area of the Jacksonville en route center. Some airlines continue to experience scheduling challenges due to aircraft and crews being out of place."

The cancellation led to speculation that the airline's decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations may have prompted pilots to stage a walkout.

Captain Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), dismissed claims that a vaccine mandate-related walkout was the reason for the disruptions.

"I can say with certainty that there are no work slowdowns or sickouts either related to the recent mandatory vaccine mandate or otherwise. Under the RLA, our Union is forbidden from taking job action to resolve labor disputes under these circumstances. SWAPA has not authorized, and will not condone, any job action," Murray said in a statement.

Murray blamed the airline's "brittle" operation for the issues.

"SWA has claimed that the immediate causes of this weekend's meltdown were staffing at Jacksonville Center and weather in the southeast U.S., but what was a minor temporary event for other carriers devastated Southwest Airlines because our operation has become brittle and subject to massive failures under the slightest pressure," he said.

"Our operation and our frontline employees have endured continuous and unending disruptions since the first time our airline made headlines in early June due to widespread IT failures. Our Pilots are tired and frustrated because our operation is running on empty due to a lack of support from the Company."

Update 10/11, 10 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with a statement from Southwest Airlines.

A Southwest Airlines baggage handler loads luggage
A Southwest Airlines baggage handler loads luggage on the tarmac at Hollywood Burbank Airport in Burbank, California, October 10, 2021. Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images