South by Southwest

Over the weekend through mid-day yesterday Southwest Airlines had canceled more than 2,000 flights. I take that number from the New York Times story, which seems to reflect something like current numbers. This industry report tabulates a variety of relevant numbers and characterizes the situation as an “operational meltdown.”

Southwest attributes the “disruptions” to “weather and other external constraints.” Both Southwest and its pilots’ union deny that the company’s vaccine mandate is the proximate cause. However, even the Times leaves the question open:

While the union, which says it does not oppose vaccination, denied that its members were calling in sick to protest the mandate, it did ask a judge on Friday to stop the airline from enacting the vaccine mandate and other policies.

The industry report linked above raises the obvious question. Why Southwest?

Brian Sumers is editor-at-large for travel site Skift and said, “Something doesn’t add up about Southwest’s explanation for its problems. The airline blames weather and air traffic control issues. That may be part of the problem. But usually, other airlines report similar issues. We aren’t seeing that. So it makes me wonder, is something else happening? Southwest should tell its customers more about whatever issue is causing this meltdown. Those customers certainly have a right to be confused — and upset.”

I trust we will get more clarity in due course.

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