Dallas-based Southwest Airlines announced that it has resumed its standard operating schedule following the company’s turbulent year-end mishap that saw thousands of flights canceled and many more passengers enraged at the company.
“We’re operating a normal schedule today and are pleased with the operational performance over the past few days,” a Southwest spokeswoman said Monday.
Southwest’s operational meltdown stemmed from last month’s worse-than-expected winter storm, which swept through the United States from December 22-29. While many airlines suffered from mass cancellations and delays, Southwest’s alleged mishandling of the situation was by far the most egregious of its industry peers.
The regional airline canceled and delayed nearly 16,000 scheduled flights over the aforementioned period, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware. Besides the thousands of passengers who had their trips upended around Christmas, many also had to contend with missing luggage, alleged unhelpful customer service representatives, and a bottleneck of customer refund requests.
“There’s no way to tell everybody, or to ask you, to turn the page on this event because it’s so significant, and we’re going to be working on healing with our customers and each other for a long time,” Southwest CEO Bob Jordan told employees in a message Sunday.
Southwest’s mismanagement of the situation and the ensuing flurry of flight cancellations prompted an investigation into the regional carrier by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Meanwhile, to encourage a quick operational recovery, Southwest recruited a number of volunteers to help process customer refunds and sort luggage. UPS and FedEx will be used to deliver lost luggage to customers, according to Southwest.
While Southwest’s operations have largely returned to normal, some passengers are still reporting missing luggage.
One such passenger still missing his luggage is California resident James Nolan, who reportedly lost his bags after the airline canceled his December 26 flight from Denver International Airport to Sacramento, California. Nolan’s flight was rebooked to Sacramento on December 30, but his bags were still missing after arriving back home.
“Unfortunately, we do not have a resolution,” Nolan said Monday.
Understanding the severity of its holiday travel meltdown, Southwest has since issued an internal investigation into the cause of the cascading system failures that led to the sudden outbreak of cancellations.
“We plan to have a clear-eyed, transparent view of what went wrong while still fresh in everyone’s memories,” said Andrew Watterson, Southwest’s chief operating officer.
In another press release from the company, Southwest stated:
“In the new year, the urgent work continues on planned improvements to processes and systems that will bolster the ability of Southwest to recover effectively in large-scale disruptions of our operational plans.”