What Happened In Southwest Airlines?

What Happened In Southwest Airlines?

Aviation & Transportation

Southwest is facing probably its greatest disaster. 

Inclement weather at Denver overloaded their outdated scheduling software and a complete meltdown ensued. 

The airline told media outlets:

“we have had issues with our scheduling tools, causing a scheduling issue.”

Furthermore in a statement the airline said: 

“We were fully staffed and prepared for the approaching holiday weekend when the severe weather swept across the continent, where Southwest is the largest carrier in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the US,” the carrier said in a statement. “These operational conditions forced daily changes to our flight schedule at a volume and magnitude that still has the tools our teams use to recover the airline operating at capacity.”

Southwest Airlines canceled nearly 2,600 flights on Tuesday after canceling over 2,900 on Monday. That is 74% of its flights on Monday and 63% of its Tuesday departures.

The Airline says that Friday the 30th should represent the resumption of normal operations.

Pilot Erika Armstrong wrote on LinkedIn:

“I’ve been on all sides of this problem so I understand the pain from multiple angles. I’ve been a flight and crew dispatcher, pilot, flight department manager and of course, a passenger. There is a tipping point where it gets so backed up that you basically have to cancel an entire day and start over which also ruins the next two days, so the reason for investing in peripheral tools like IT and software is to NEVER reach that tipping point. 

Nope. It’s not a pilot shortage, even though crew duty time was a huge factor. Not a staffing shortage, but once again, when you’re a ground worker scheduled for a shift and can’t get there then yes. Most passengers don’t care why, so you can stop reading, but if you wanna know, then….

Yep, of course the weather started the dominoes, but it’s the continued meltdown that is the variable.  It would take pages to explain all the nuances of issues, so here’s the general idea.

A massive storm hits one section of country. Happens all the time to every airline.

Planes are parked and crews are stranded everywhere. Hotels are unavailable so crews are scattered not getting defined rest. The deicer workers can’t get to the airport to deice the aircraft. Now, the system can’t find their crews because you have to call in because you’re not where you’re supposed to be. Pilots said it took 2-4 hours to call in and there were crew willing to fly, but they couldn’t let anyone know. 

Dispatch has to pull 1/3 the roster offline and manually start building crew pairings. The crews from the first day were supposed to be on the other side of the country flying airplanes that are sitting in good weather. But you can’t get them there so now 1/2 your roster is gone. By the end of the second day, if you can’t locate staff, you throw in the towel and reset.

Gate agents are yelled at for hours.

They honestly don’t have answers because there aren’t any answers. This is when social media should’ve been used by Southwest. It’s free and in most everyone’s hand. 

Then, the best part, a memo sent to ramp agents that all pre authorized vacation time becomes canceled. And mandatory overtime becomes implemented. The communications from the company were punitive, not collaborative. Now, workers are walking out on purpose.

Solution? A simple communications app/platform? Where all employees can text message their department and software listens as well as people. Like, where are you? I know pilots will say big brother is watching, but you can share your location while on duty and turn it off when done? Maybe use it during wx emergency?”

Travel guru Johnny Jet wrote on December 29th:

“other airlines, who operate from the same airports but have much larger operations, only have a fraction of the cancellations. Then you realize, the bad weather only triggered what was an inevitable catastrophe for Southwest. Just take yesterday’s numbers, provided by FlightAware.com: Southwest canceled 2,510 flights while American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, all three of which are much larger airlines than SWA, canceled just 78 flights combined. That’s unacceptable and the numbers are more drastic from the days prior.”

Clearly, Southwest has lost the focus it once had.

Not run by the original founders, but cost-conscience executives.

Originally, it was an airline born out of love for its customers. 

What’s the story behind the airline?

Founded in 1967 by Herb Kelleher and Rollin King and headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Currently the largest airline in the world by number of passengers carried annually.

The story of Southwest Airlines began in the early 1960s, when Kelleher, a successful Texas lawyer, and King, a businessman, decided to start an airline that would offer cheap flights between the cities of Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. At the time, these cities did not possess air connections. And the existing airlines charged high fares for their services. Kelleher and King believed that they could offer a more affordable and convenient alternative to these airlines by using smaller planes and focusing on shorter flights.

In 1966, Kelleher and King incorporated Southwest Airlines and obtained financing to purchase their first plane, a used Boeing 737. The following year, they received their operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration and began operations. The airline’s first flight took off on June 18, 1971, from Dallas to Houston.

In the early years, Southwest Airlines struggled to gain a foothold in the competitive airline industry.

However, the company was able to differentiate itself by offering low fares, friendly customer service, and reliable on-time performance. It also adopted a no-frills approach, meaning it did not offer meals or assigned seating on its flights. Instead, it focused on providing quick and efficient service to its passengers.

The wreck of Flight 1455 in Burbank, California

Over time, Southwest Airlines’ business model proved to be successful, and the company began to grow rapidly.

The airline expanded to new cities, added more planes to its fleet, and introduced new services, such as baggage handling and frequent flyer programs. In the 1980s, Southwest Airlines began to focus on expanding beyond Texas, and by the 1990s, it had become a major player in the national airline industry.

Today, Southwest Airlines operates flights to more than 100 destinations across the United States and beyond. And known for its low fares. Friendly customer service. And reliable performance. 

Prior to this debacle, it was a popular choice for travelers, consistently ranking as one of the top airlines in customer satisfaction surveys.

In conclusion, the story of Southwest Airlines is one of perseverance, innovation, and a commitment to providing affordable and convenient travel to its customers. From its humble beginnings as a small regional airline, it has grown to become a major player in the global airline industry, and it continues to thrive today.

What Happened In Southwest Airlines?

Aviation & Transportation