Updated Dec 27, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Transportation Department to review Southwest's mass flight cancellations

 Ella Silverstein lookup air during her waiting in the line to book flight in front of Southwest Airlines ticket counter at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado on Thursday, December 22.

Passengers waiting for a Southwest Airlines flight at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado, on Dec. 22. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

Thousands more flights were canceled on Monday as the effects of winter storms and operational challenges continued to impact holiday travel.

The big picture: The Department of Transportation tweeted that it would look into the actions of Southwest, which accounted for a large amount of the more than 3,900 flight cancelations and 8,200-plus delays within, into or out of the U.S. as of late Monday, per FlightAware data.

A screenshot of a Southwest Airlines tweet saying they're experiencing high call volumes.
Photo: Southwest Airlines/Twitter
  • The DOT said it's "concerned by Southwest's unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service" and "will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan."

By the numbers: Southwest canceled nearly 70% of its 2,886 flights Monday and 60% of some 2,400, planned Tuesday flights, according to FlightAware.

  • The Dallas-based carrier has canceled some 8,000 flights from Thursday to Monday, per the flight tracking website.

What we're watching: Southwest CEO Bob Jordan told the Wall Street Journal Monday evening the airline would operate just over a third of its schedule Tuesday and Wednesday in order to alleviate the situation.

  • The reduced capacity could be extended for longer if necessary, as airlines prepare for new year holiday travel.
  • "We had a tough day today. In all likelihood we’ll have another tough day tomorrow as we work our way out of this," Jordan told the Journal. "This is the largest scale event that I've ever seen."

What they're saying: Southwest issued a statement Monday apologizing for the disruption.

  • "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," Southwest said.
  • "We are working with safety at the forefront to urgently address wide-scale disruption by re-balancing the airline and repositioning crews and our fleet, ultimately to best serve all who plan to travel with us. And our heartfelt apologies for this are just beginning."
  • Representatives for Southwest did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details throughout.

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