Southwest to Add Self-Service Portal for Business Customers


Southwest Airlines is in the early stages of development on a self-service travel portal for its Southwest Business program, the airline announced Wednesday at the Global Business Travel Association in Orlando. 

The company is partnering with Slalom Consulting to develop the product on Salesforce, and the portal will become the primary location for travel managers and travel management companies to keep up to date with their Southwest programs. 

“We hear from travel managers and TMCs that they need more self-service,” VP of Southwest Business Dave Harvey told BTN. “It’s one more step to make it easier to do business with Southwest.”

Harvey said the portal should be ready for a mid-2022 launch. He added that the company is prioritizing a list of tasks travel managers and TMCs want automated—such as reporting around sustainability—and that new features will be added through 2022. 

Southwest also announced that it joined the Concur TripLink Network, and Southwest Rapid Rewards members now can link their SAP Concur accounts. Users can see their company’s applicable discounted rates and other contractual benefits while booking travel on Southwest.com or via the airline’s mobile app. Once an itinerary is booked, the user’s data flows to SAP Concur for expenses, duty of care and other reporting needs.

Further, the company announced that Southwest Business customers who use the airline’s Swabiz managed travel tool now can book and manage aspects of their trips on their mobile devices. The functionality is available on iOS and the carrier expects it to be available for Android devices by the end of 2021.



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Southwest offers staff extra pay, frequent flyer miles to avoid holiday travel disruptions


A baggage handler pushes a bag near a Southwest Airlines airplane at Hollywood Burbank Airport in Burbank, California, October 10, 2021.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines on Saturday offered its flight attendants new incentives aimed at avoiding more flight cancellations, particularly over the peak holiday period, amid concerns over staffing, according to an internal memo.

Southwest canceled more than 2,000 flights around Columbus Day weekend, disruptions the air carrier said cost it $75 million. American Airlines, which is also offering flight attendants and other crews extra pay for holiday shifts, struggled with mass flight cancellations late last month and in early November as well.

Flight attendants, pilots and other operations employees could receive up to 120,000 Rapid Rewards points, valued at more than $1,400. Flight attendants are eligible for working 36 days between Nov. 15 and Jan. 14, while cabin crews who work 28 days over that period could get 60,000 points, the note stated. Southwest said that the number of qualifying shifts or days varies by work group.

The number of no-shows or unreachable flight attendants has been elevated recently, Southwest’s vice president of Sonya Lacore, vice president of inflight operations, said in her note to cabin crews, which was reviewed by CNBC. Sick calls have surged as well when the company has lifted emergency policies that required flight attendants to show a doctor’s note if calling out ill. For example, Lacore said when the airline last lifted those procedures on Nov. 9 sick calls went from 20 an hour to 90 an hour for two hours in a row.

“We have a great opportunity here to uphold that commitment to them, and you, in the midst of what has been a difficult time for us all,” wrote Lacore. “Our first step in addressing this, and actively working to protect the operation, was to reduce the schedule, and we believe this incentive program will take us another step in the right direction.”

The airline is also offering as much as triple pay to ground operations employees for working Thanksgiving and Christmas and double pay for overtime shifts between Nov. 17 through Nov. 30 and Dec. 17 through Jan. 3, up from time-and-a-half pay.

Airlines had offered staff early retirement packages and leaves of absence to cut their labor bills during the pandemic but found themselves short-staffed when demand bounced back this year. More flight attendants are returning to American and Southwest from leave, while those airlines and others are also aggressively hiring.



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Southwest cancellations could preview a messy holiday season


“I’m concerned that it’s going to be a very stressful holiday season when it come to air travel,” said travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research Group. “It’s already stressed with the potential for bad weather and of course, especially at Thanksgiving, very crowded flights.”



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Southwest Looks to Tap ‘Clear, Steady’ Upward Trend in Corp. Travel Demand


Southwest’s Andrew Watterson discusses:

  • A surprise rebound in convention/meeting business
  • Channel shift from Southwest’s GDS strategy
  • Getting operations beyond “acceptable” levels

Southwest Airlines last week celebrated the 15th anniversary of its launch of operations in Denver, which since has grown into one of the largest centers of business for the carrier. Southwest EVP and chief commercial officer Andrew Watterson spoke with BTN transportation editor Michael B. Baker during the event about the effect Southwest’s growth in Denver has had on corporate travel, the carrier’s strategy to recover from recent operational challenges and his outlook for corporate travel recovery.

BTN: Airline executives generally have said they expect slower business travel growth this year and then acceleration next year. Is that what you expect?

Andrew Watterson: That’s the current supposition, though predictions for business travel return have been erroneous for a year and a half now, but it’s a clear, steady, upward trend that we’re seeing. [Small and medium-sized businesses] were first to get back out on the road, but we’re seeing the supermajority of our accounts are active. It’s the travelers per account that’s really depressed, but for the travelers who are traveling, their rate of travel is down only about 10 percent. 

A year or so ago, people would say conventions and internal travel are not coming back, but we’re seeing a lot of meetings and convention business, because those are open. People are traveling on business to Las Vegas or Orlando to have a convention or meeting and interact with others, and we’re seeing a lot of companies, especially professional services companies, getting together in their offices. They can’t go to a client site, so they’ll fly their teams to a centralized office, work there a couple of days a week and then go back to their home office. That has been a surprise, because if you’d asked anybody 12 to 15 months ago, they’d say those would be the last things to come back, but they’ve been the first things.

BTN: Will it ultimately return to pre-pandemic levels?

Watterson: A lot of times people get overly focused on whether we’ll get to 100 percent of travel demand. The business travel community just being back to 80 percent or 85 percent is material. There will be different types of business travel. While I don’t minimize that, it’s true with every recession. If you go back to the Great Recession or 9/11, those changed the nature of business travel, so it’s common for an economic downturn to result in a change of busines travel perception. After 9/11, we had the security hassle, which put a damper on short-haul flying. During the Great Recession, a lot of the big conventions were vilified, and so there was a stigma on conventions that lasted a few years. 

BTN: After your recent announcement of capacity adjustments, are you confident that Southwest will be ready for the upcoming holiday demand?

Watterson: You never know what the weather is going to be like. What we’re seeing is that with summertime, we had ramped up our capacity, and we didn’t lay anybody off or furlough anybody, but we did have people on extended leave. We were calling them back, and then we were hiring more people, and just like the rest of the economy, we found out we couldn’t hire people as fast as we used to be able to hire, and some people who came back from leave for whatever reason would turn around and ask for unpaid leave. A combination of coming up short in hiring goals and unpaid leaves meant staffing wasn’t right this summer. So, we immediately adjusted for capacity and brought down our capacity. We won’t be back to the same levels we were this summer until the earliest March or perhaps later on, so that gives us more time to ramp up the hiring we need. There will be less flights this holiday season versus the summer, and more people we’ve been hiring, which puts us in a good position.

BTN: Outside of that one weekend, how has Southwest’s operational performance been in recent months?

Watterson: Since we did the immediate reduction we started in September and beyond, we’ve had acceptable on-time performance. We’d like to do better than that, but it’s good enough. We’re not getting complaint letters from it. We know the day-to-day recoverability will be helped by a more dense network that we get each month that goes by. Right now, the reliability is at an acceptable level, but it needs to be better than that. We generally had timed the increase in our depth for the return of business travel, which we expect to be during 2022.


We won’t be back to the same levels we were this summer until the earliest March or perhaps later on, so that gives us more time to ramp up the hiring we need. There will be less flights this holiday season versus the summer, and more people we’ve been hiring, which puts us in a good position.”


BTN: What feedback have you gotten from corporate customers regarding the new destinations Southwest has added?

Watterson: A good portion of them are leisure, and for business travelers, they like that, because they can use the points they earn on business to fly leisure. The one that have a direct business benefit are the bigger city airports, like Chicago O’Hare, Bush Intercontinental and Miami, but we also have medium-sized city airports like Colorado Springs, Fresno and Bozeman, (Mont.,) where there’s business going on there as well and corporations located there or that send people there are happy. We see in big metro areas, where we’re in multiple airports, that gives people choices.

Denver is a big focus for us. It’s our largest airport. We entered 15 years ago in a modest fashion and then, as we’ve seen an increasingly robust response, we’ve ramped up to be what we are now. We are getting 16 more gates as they finish our concourse, which is a total of 40 fights, so we’ll have ample opportunity to fly to new destinations and add more frequencies. We find Denver is a market where air travel is essential to doing business. If you think about big cities, in most you can drive to another big city. We’re based in Dallas, and you can drive to Austin if you want or Houston if you want. If you live in New York, you can drive to Boston or Philly or take a train. But Denver, the big cities aren’t within driving distance, so you need to fly to do business. It’s brought a greater utility to the business community in Denver, especially with our flexibility in and out. We keep adding more people here and more flights here, and we’re grateful to have been embraced by the city and business community. 

BTN: Now that you are live with all the major global distribution system suppliers, have you seen much channel shift?

Watterson: We’re seeing definitely incremental business from being in the three GDSs with full functionality. We know there’s some shift, and when we did the business case and plan for doing this, we counted on the big shift. What we are seeing now is that corporations will still use multiple channels for different purposes. There may be a senior group that gets high-touch support from the travel management company and goes through the GDS, and there may be a self-service, stand-alone business unit that uses Swabiz. Something in between might use a direct connect. The ultimate channel shift will depend on what the travel purpose is for each of those segments. 

BTN: What response have you seen to the recent announcement of a new Rapid Rewards Business program?

Watterson: We’ve been doing beta for quite a while just to get the kinks out. We had a real surge of interest once we went public on it, and we’ve seen lots of sign-ups. It’s a way for corporations that aren’t big enough to have a negotiated discount but still want to favor us with some activity to de facto to get a discount, in terms of earning points they can redeem for company travel. This is a way for them to earn a discount through demonstrated performance. 

BTN: What about your recent announcements on sustainability?

Watterson: We’re allowing multiple options for corporations, depending on their sentiment and how they want to engage. If your company is large enough that you can fund acquisition of sustainable aviation fuel, we can work together to get a direct line for that for you, all the way down to the lower end, as an individual or company, where we offer to offset a particular flight you are taking. We will give you Rapid Rewards points for that and match your gift, so we end up contributing more than you. 

BTN: Is codesharing or interlining with other carriers still something Southwest is considering?

Watterson: It’s on our radar. Each year we look at our tech budget to see what to spend it on. Things like [Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards] to fly to Hawaii, the GDS or refreshing Swabiz. We also just went live with a brand-new maintenance system. You can also use it for something like codeshare and interlines, so that had not yet made it into that short list to do. It’s something we still want to do moving forward. We think it’s a good financial benefit as well as offering travelers extra options, but it’s the icing, not the cake, for us.



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Air Canada, Southwest Airlines Partner with Green Tech Cos.


Southwest Airlines has signed a 15-year agreement with a sustainable aviation fuel producer, and Air Canada is working with a decarbonization technology firm that could also spur more production of SAF, the carriers announced separately on Wednesday.

In Southwest’s agreement with Velocys Renewables, the carrier will receive 219 million gallons of SAF, which can blend with conventional jet fuel to produce as much as 575 million gallons of fuel with net-zero carbon emissions, according to the carrier. Over the period of the agreement, it could potentially lower carbon emissions by 6.5 million metric tons.

Velocys CEO Henrik Wareborn claimed the company’s fuel is “the lowest carbon intensity sustainable aviation fuel announced to date.”

“The SAF produced at the Bayou Fuels facility plans to utilize a sustainable feedstock—forestry residues from plantation forests—and renewable power from a neighboring solar facility, as well as contract for carbon capture that will sequester more than 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year,” according to Wareborn. “It also is expected to have a greater than 99 percent reduction in sulfur as compared to conventional jet fuel, reducing the emissions of this conventional pollutant.”

Southwest plans to begin buying the fuel from Velocys’ facility in Natchez, Miss., in 2026 at the earliest, and the agreement also includes rights to buy “significant volumes” of the fuel from future Velocys facilities, according to Southwest. The carrier aims to replace 10 percent of its jet fuel consumption with SAF by 2030, according to Southwest Airlines senior director of fuel supply chain management Michael AuBuchon.

Southwest in recent weeks announced a SAF fuel purchasing program with corporate clients, in which the companies pay the premium cost of the fuel via cash or UATP funds to receive carbon credits for their emissions, but the amount of fuel currently available limits participation opportunities. Deloitte, Siemens and Zurich North America are initial partners in the program.

Air Canada, meanwhile, announced a memorandum of understanding with Canadian energy firm Carbon Engineering, which aims to deploy technology capable of large-scale carbon capture, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The carrier will work with the firm “to advance new, transformational technologies toward the commercial viability of SAFs and carbon removal,” according to Air Canada EVP and CFO Amos Kazzaz.

Besides permanently storing captured carbon dioxide deep underground, captured carbon potentially could be used to develop ultra-low carbon fuels, including SAF, when combined with clean hydrogen, according to Air Canada.

Carbon Engineering has been operating a pilot plant in British Colombia capturing carbon dioxide since 2015, and it is working to deploy megaton-scale facilities. One such large-scale facility is under development in the United States by 1PointFive, in which Air Canada partner United Airlines announced a multimillion-dollar investment last year, and it is targeting 2024 to begin operations.



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International travel to US, Southwest Florida will see gradual return



LEE COUNTY

International travelers are hoping to board airplanes and finally fly back to the United States now that a federal travel ban is lifted for 33 countries.

Southwest Florida is a converted destination for many travelers. So, WINK News went to Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) to talk to some of those traveling.

Three flights from Toronto touched down at RSW on Monday. However, the first scheduled flight from Germany doesn’t come in until March. The return of international travel to the U.S. is projected to be gradual.

At airports all across the country at baggage claim 3 at RSW, excitement is in the air. Canadians have been trickling back into the U.S. for weeks. Steve and Alla Churchill came back from Canada.

“It’s exciting because as my husband put it, we’ve been stuck in COVID-19 hell. And time is meaningless. And we are just so happy to be able to be back and see our friends again…just get back to some normalcy it’s been so awful so hard,” Alla said.

An international travel ban on 33 countries was lifted on Monday. Paul Bieres is in charge of tourism in Collier County. “We have been waiting for this day unknowingly for this particular day. For now, 19 months since international travel was seized, it’s a pretty exciting time for us,” said Biernes.

International travelers accounted for 20% of tourism prior to the pandemic. He told me most international visitors won’t be back to Southwest Florida until next summer. For Biernes, that’s okay!

“It will take a little bit of ramping up to get these international flights back into pace. But the pent-up demand that is there, not only in Europe, Latin America, and Canada is definitely there,” Biernes said.

Mot travelers, with some exceptions, will need to be vaccinated and show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. These requirements will be handled at airports abroad.

The only impact expected at RSW is busier baggage claims.



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Mom Says Southwest Airlines Thought She Was Trafficking Her Biracial Daughter – CBS Sacramento


SAN JOSE  (CBS13/CNN) — A California woman is accusing Southwest Airlines of racial profiling, saying she was accused of human trafficking while traveling with her biracial daughter.

Mary MacCarthy of Los Angeles told CNN she and her 10-year-old daughter, Moira, were flying to Denver on October 22 after receiving news that MacCarthy’s brother had suddenly died.

READ MORE: Family Of Fresno Man Killed By Hit-And-Run Drivers In Stockton Devastated

MacCarthy said they had a brief stop in San Jose and boarded another Southwest flight but realized then that they couldn’t be seated together.

“I asked flight attendants if we could be seated together but they told us we’d each have to take a middle seat,” MacCarthy said. “So with their permission, I asked other passengers if they would kindly move so we could be together, especially as my daughter was grieving, and they did. People are nice.”

A California woman wants Southwest Airlines to be held accountable after one of their employees suspected her of human trafficking her bi-racial daughter, and that the employee notified police.

When they arrived in Denver, MacCarthy said, she and her daughter were met on the jetway by two Denver police officers.

“I got quite a shock; having lost my brother the night before, I thought that someone else in my family had died and that police had been sent to deliver the news!” MacCarthy wrote in an email to Southwest Airlines’ media team, which was included in the police report.

“As for my daughter, she was terribly frightened: she was already experiencing the trauma of her uncle’s death, and she is scared of police due to constant headlines about how police treat Black people (she is Black). She began to sob and was inconsolable,” her email said.

The officers assured her nothing was wrong but said they wanted to question her and her daughter, MacCarthy said.

“They said they were here because my daughter and I were reported for suspicious behavior, acting suspiciously before boarding and while boarding,” she said.

“I took out my phone and immediately started recording. I told (the officer) who we were and that my daughter was crying because she had lost a family member,” MacCarthy said.

According to a report from the Denver police, “Both Mother and child were cleared.”

The report also noted that officers were responding to a “possible Human Trafficking reported by South West flight attendant” — but MacCarthy says she only found out two weeks later that she was suspected of human trafficking.

“I got a call from Denver Police human trafficking unit letting me know they were following up on the incident,” she told CNN.

READ MORE: ‘Said He Was Gonna Shoot Me And Kill Me’: Victim Of Sacramento Home Invasion Talks About Ordeal

CNN reached out to the Denver Police Department on Sunday afternoon about MacCarthy’s claim but has not received a response.

MacCarthy accuses Southwest Airlines of racial profiling. She says she’s retained an attorney and wants the airline to be held “fully accountable.”

“I gave the airline plenty of time to contact me and apologize — over two weeks later, I’ve yet to receive anything more than two brief automated responses. The time for an apology is long past,” MacCarthy said.

In her email to Southwest’s media team, MacCarthy said she wanted a written apology from the airline, immediate reimbursement of the full price of their tickets, and “additional compensation to account for the trauma imposed on an innocent family, and especially on a grieving 10-year-old Black girl.”

Southwest Airlines said it is “disheartened” by MacCarthy’s account of the events and plans to reach out to her.

“We are conducting a review of the situation internally, and we will be reaching out to the Customer to address her concerns and offer our apologies for her experience traveling with us. Our Employees undergo robust training on Human Trafficking. Above all, Southwest Airlines prides itself on providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for the millions of Customers who travel with us each year,” Southwest Airlines spokesperson Dan Landson said in a statement to CNN on Sunday.

“Had this been a White child, there would not have been a raised eyebrow,” MacCarthy’s attorney David Lane told CNN.

In our region, a minor who police say was a victim of human trafficking was rescued in Turlock earlier in October.

Turlock police say that on October 6, their Special Investigations Unit got a tip from Santa Clara police that a human trafficking victim was possibly frequenting the area.

With the help of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, authorities started trying to find the victim in or around Turlock.

On Thursday, investigators were able to track the minor to the 100 block of North Tully Road. The victim was then rescued by officers – who also said they found other evidence that showed the minor was being trafficked.

A 22-year-old man, Hayward resident Angelo Gabriel Fuentes, was soon interviewed by authorities and eventually arrested.

MORE NEWS: Firefighters Rescue Deer Trapped In Canal In Sacramento County

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CNN contributed to this report.)



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Southwest Launches Business Version of Rapid Rewards


Southwest Airlines has launched a Rapid Rewards Business program, in which companies can earn travel rewards for business travel with the carrier.

In the program, businesses flying with Southwest earn three Rapid Rewards Business points for each dollar spent on Business Select fares, two points per dollar on Anytime fares and one point per dollar on Southwest’s Wanna Get Away fares, which they can use for future company travel. Business travelers will continue to earn their usual points in their personal Rapid Rewards accounts as well.

The travelers must link their Rapid Rewards account to their employer’s corporate identification number in order earn points, and travel must be booked either through a direct channel, including the Swabiz booking tool or Southwest’s API/direct connect technology, or through the global distribution system.

Southwest already has been providing Rapid Rewards Business points for some business customers in a beta version, and the carrier now is ready to open it up to all its business clients, VP of Southwest Business Dave Harvey said. The points were available only in direct channels during the beta version, but Southwest opted to open it up to GDSs to “support our channel-of-choice vision,” he said.

To spur enrollment, Southwest is giving 25,000 points to businesses that sign up before the end of the year and have travelers fly at least two round trips within 90 days of enrollment.



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Report: Southwest Reverses, to Retain Employees Seeking Vaccine Exemption


Reversing a position announced earlier this month, Southwest Airlines will not place on unpaid leave employees who have requested but not received by Dec. 8 an exemption to the carrier’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate, according to a CNBC report

CNBC said Southwest confirmed its report, which indicated that Southwest SVP of operations and hospitality Steve Goldberg and VP and chief people officer Julie Weber on Oct. 15 sent employees a letter that said they could continue to work even if their request for a medical or religious exemption was not received by Dec. 8. Previously, the carrier had indicated that all such exemptions needed to be approved by that date for employees to avoid unpaid leave.

“This is a change from what was previously communicated. Initially, we communicated that these Employees would be put on unpaid leave and that is no longer the case,” Goldberg and Weber wrote, according to CNBC, which indicated it had viewed the letter. Southwest did not immediately respond to a BTN request seeking confirmation.

United Airlines this year mandated all employees receive a Covid-19 vaccine, but wasn’t matched by other large U.S. carriers until the White House earlier this month noted they fall under the category of federal contractors, which are subject to the Biden administration’s vaccine-mandate executive orders

At that point, Southwest indicated it would require all employees by Dec. 8 to either be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or approved for a religious, disability or medical exemption, or else they would be placed on unpaid leave. Now, the company will continue to pay unvaccinated employees while it reviews their requests for exemptions, according to CNBC, and those employees will not be placed on leave. 

The move could help alleviate what could prove to be a chaotic Thanksgiving weekend travel experience, given the timing of other carriers’ vaccine mandates as well as that of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

Like other civilian federal workers, TSA employees must be vaccinated by Nov. 22, subject to exemptions, the Monday of Thanksgiving week. TSA administrator David Pekoske last week told CNN that about 60 percent of employees were fully vaccinated. 

Executive Travel founder and chairman Steve Glenn in an email this week warned the airline and TSA vaccination deadlines could cause “the biggest air travel mess in history during Thanksgiving weekend,” one that could “reverberate for days, weeks or even months.”

Noting the widespread Southwest delays and cancellations earlier this month, Glenn suggested several ways to mitigate potential travel problem should the vaccine mandates remain, including arriving at the airport at least three hours prior to departure, making backup reservations or simply not flying. “I can’t believe I am saying this,” Glenn wrote, “but you might want to consider simply staying home for the Thanksgiving holiday.”



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Southwest blames travel woes on hourslong shutdown at Orlando airport


ORLANDO, Fla. – Southwest Airlines issued a statement on Thursday about its recent travel woes, saying they were caused, in part, because Orlando International Airport was closed for seven hours late last week due to weather.

Southwest later amended the letter from airline President and COO Mike Van de Ven, saying OIA was closed for several, not seven, hours.

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Storms moved through Central Florida on Friday, but it’s not known if OIA was shut down for hours. News 6 has reached out to the airport for comment but has not yet heard back.

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The airline said it was unable to fly in or out of Orlando while the airport was closed.

“About a quarter of Southwest’s Crew assignments include at least one Florida city. One of our largest Crew Bases is at Orlando International Airport, and that airport was shut to departing and arriving air traffic for several hours on Friday—preventing the flow of aircraft and Crews into the network,” the statement reads.

Southwest canceled thousands of flights earlier this week, leading many to speculate that the airlines’ recent COVID vaccine mandate prompted a “sickout” from pilots and staff. The airline and the pilots union, however, dispute that claim.

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Five days after the cancellations began, the airline said it was mostly back on schedule.

No other airlines suffered any similar setbacks over the past week.

In its letter, Southwest apologized for the delays and flight cancellations and promised to make changes to avoid similar issues in the future.

Below is the full letter from Southwest:

I’d like to address the operational challenges we faced recently and offer an explanation of what happened. But first, let me begin with our heartfelt apology to everyone whose travel was disrupted by these events: we are truly sorry.

The operational disruption began on Friday and was initially created by weather and air traffic constraints that stalled our Florida operations for many hours. As a result, our aircraft and Crews were not in their pre-planned positions to operate our schedule on Saturday. Unfortunately, the out-of-place aircraft and Crew resources created additional cancelations across our point-to-point network that cascaded throughout the weekend and into Monday and Tuesday. Weather and air traffic constraints were not an issue beyond Friday, but it took us several days to re-set our network after the initial challenges.

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Despite widespread rumors and speculation, the weekend challenges were not a result of unusual Southwest Employee activity, and there simply is nothing in our data that indicates that particular reason. Our Employees worked heroically in the midst of these adverse conditions and many came in on off days, or flew additional trips, to help the airline recover. I offer my sincere thanks and appreciation for their tireless work and dedication to serving our Customers.

I’m sure you are curious as to why Friday’s challenges impacted Southwest more than other airlines. For starters, flying to and from Florida is a large portion of our schedule, and disruptions to Florida quickly spread throughout our network given our point-to-point flying. In fact, approximately 40-50% of Southwest’s aircraft fly through Florida on any given day.

Additionally, about a quarter of Southwest’s Crew assignments include at least one Florida city. One of our largest Crew Bases is at Orlando International Airport, and that airport was shut to departing and arriving air traffic for several hours on Friday—preventing the flow of aircraft and Crews into the network.

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We’ve said numerous times, the pandemic is unprecedented and extremely complex—it was messy going into it, and it’s messy as we fight to emerge from it. Going forward, our number one focus is to hire more people—with a goal of hiring more than 5,000 by the end of the year and with 50% of the goal already met.

Additionally, we continue to evaluate potential network schedule changes to mitigate operational risks as we head into the holidays. There is certainly more work to be done as we approach November, and our Teams are dedicated to doing that work to support a reliable operation.

Again, I fully realize that any attempt at an explanation falls short of our ultimate goal of delivering you to your destination on time with our typical Southwest hospitality. You expect and deserve better Customer Service from us, and we are committed to making necessary adjustments to deliver on that expectation.

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We are doing our best to proactively reach out to Customers whose travel plans were impacted to offer our apologies and invite them to give us another chance to earn their business. If Customers require assistance from Southwest, they can use one of the airline’s self-service options for convenience or Contact Us via one of the methods listed on Southwest.com.

I want to thank our People, and especially our frontline Employees, who have worked around the clock to help Customers impacted by these challenges. They are our true heroes.

Finally, I want to offer my sincere apologies once again to every Customer affected over the past week, and I humbly invite you to give us another chance to make it up to you on your next trip.

Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.





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