Southwest Airlines cancels hundreds of flights, disrupting some leisure travelers – CBS News

Christmas Day flight delays, Chicago airport cancellations

Christmas Day flight delays, Chicago airport cancellations 02:37

After thousands of US flights were canceled or delayed over the 2022 holidays, most holiday travelers are having a happier start to Christmas this year. However, some trouble spots emerged on Christmas Day.

According to tracking service FlightAware, as of 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time, around 135 flights to, from or within the United States had been canceled, while just over 1,100 were delayed.

As of Dec. 22, airlines had canceled just 1.2% of U.S. flights so far this year, the lowest level in five years. Nearly 3 million passengers were expected to pass through domestic airports during the busy holiday season, a 16% increase from 2022.

Southwest flights canceled

Not everyone was so lucky. According to CBS News Chicago, some passengers remained stranded at Chicago’s Midway International Airport on Christmas Eve as U.S. airline Southwest Airlines, which suffered the most disruption during last year’s holiday season, again experienced problems. Southwest attributed the delays to foggy weather in Chicago, but passengers also told CBS2 that a labor shortage was a factor.

The glitch also affected passengers at Denver International Airport, with Southwest canceling 293 flights on Sunday while nearly 1,300 flights were delayed, FlightAware data shows.

“We had dense fog in Chicago that forced us to suspend operations last night and into this morning,” Chris Mainz, a spokesman for Southwest Airlines, told CBS News Colorado.

Southwest canceled 101 flights, or 2% of its daily flights, as of Monday morning, while 397 flights were delayed, FlightAware data showed. In comparison, Delta and United Airlines canceled five flights.

“[Y]“You guys ruined my Christmas two years in a row,” one person said Posted Friday on X

Meanwhile, a winter storm in the Northern Plains on Monday is bringing snow, ice and riskier road conditions to the region stretching from northern Kansas through Nebraska, the Dakotas and parts of Minnesota, the Weather Channel reported.

Blizzard causes hazardous travel, heavy snow and wind across northern Plains 00:41

Southwest agreed to a $140 million settlement with the federal government earlier this month over last year’s chaos that left more than two million travelers stranded over the holidays. Southwest has previously agreed to pay more than $600 million in refunds and refunds to customers.

“This is a message to the entire airline industry: You must take care of passengers or we will use the full extent of our authority to hold them accountable,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted on Dec. 18.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Alain Sherter