Photo: Getty Images
  /  12.27.2022

Individuals who booked flights with Southwest this Christmas season are running low on holiday cheer. As of today (Dec. 27), the popular airline has canceled approximately 5,400 flights within 48 hours, according to NPR. An insider who spoke to the outlet described the chaos as a “full-blown meltdown.”

Yesterday (Dec. 26), the United States Department of Transportation deemed the situation “unacceptable.” The organization’s official Twitter account wrote, “USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays [and] reports of lack of prompt customer service. The department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.” While service disruptions can be expected during any holiday season, this Christmas takes the cake for horror stories. Part of the issue is due to massive snowstorms and frigid temperatures that have made travel next to impossible.

Over on Twitter, many are detailing the frustrating ordeal currently happening at various airports across America. “Southwest canceled every flight today leaving Chicago and turned off their phone lines… The line in the airport is currently [six] hours long and the next available flights are after the new year,” one tweet from yesterday read. A similar one with footage said, “Here is the video of the intercom announcement. Speaker says staffing issues have led to the cancellation of 90 percent of Sky Harbor Southwest flights. They say they cannot get anyone out for the next [four] days.”

The flights themselves are only one aspect of the stress. Social media users also shared photos and videos of the sheer pandemonium taking place at virtually every baggage claim area in the country. “#SOUTHWEST NIGHTMARE: All flights leaving San Diego tonight are canceled, announcement just now over the intercom says the airline is ‘frozen and not able to assist with rebooking.’ People are told [to] find their bags in these piles. Several are in tears,” a reporter posted. Another said, “A visual representation of the disaster that is air travel at the moment. A Southwest Airlines rep just said over the intercom that bags are heading to [their] final destination, even if the flight they were scheduled on is canceled.”

Others urged customers to treat staff with respect during the difficult time. “IMPORTANT REMINDER: Please be kind to airline agents. At the end of the day, Southwest as a whole is who canceled my flight with no explanation. I watched multiple agents today in tears after how customers treated them. They are here to help, and I’m so grateful to them,” a tweet read. Another user shared a video of “a @SouthwestAir pilot [handing] out coffee to delayed passengers on a flight from Baltimore to Louisville.”

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