Southwest Airlines, other carriers cancels hundreds more flights Sunday as weekend delays pile up

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines canceled almost 400 more flights by Sunday morning after technology and weather problems wreaked havoc on the carrier on Saturday.

Some 385 flights were canceled on Southwest by early morning Sunday and another 300 were delayed, about one-sixth of all flights the airline had scheduled, according to Flightaware.com. Other airlines, including Fort Worth-based American, saw issues voting from weather in Florida on Saturday too and that more trouble could be ahead on Sunday.

Passengers complained on social media of more delays Sunday and are reportedly being told that flights may not be available for days.

The problems started with a “intermittent technology issues following routine overnight maintenance” Friday night that the company said were resolved. There were also thunderstorms in Florida that delayed some flights early Saturday. But the problems got worse throughout Saturday, eerily similar to other operational meltdowns over the last year that have sometimes felt the carrier scrambling for days as the company had trouble getting pilots, flight attendants and aircraft where they were supposed to be and ready fly the next day.

“It’s a nightmare out there on a more and more frequent basis,” said Casey Murray, head of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association union in a text message. “Yesterday it began with an IT failure and schedules exacerbates the problems where recovery takes 4-5 days.”

By the end of Saturday, Southwest canceled 520 flights, about one-seventh of all flights, and almost half of the company’s flights. Most of those flights were in Florida, with nearly 500 flights out of Orlando, Miami, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale canceled Saturday across all carriers.

About 33 flights in and out of Dallas Love Field have been canceled so far Sunday and about 43 out of DFW International Airport.

Southwest wasn’t the only carrier having trouble as nearly 2,000 flights were cut across the United States. American Airlines canceled 363 flights Saturday and delayed another 620. American started Saturday with another 192 cancellations by 8 am, although the number of delays had dropped to less than 1% of all of its flights.

“Today, we’re focused on recovering from yesterday’s Florida weather and resulting [Air Traffic Control] initiatives that reduced routes, and could see some more weather and ATC initiatives today,” said American Airlines spokeswoman Yamleque Murillo.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines nixed 237 flights on Saturday too, about 8% of its schedule and a fifth of flights were delayed, an unusual weekend for the carrier that regularly beats others in reliability.

Budget carrier Spirit had to cancel about a quarter of its flights, 222 in all, on Saturday. JetBlue had 161 cancellations Saturday.

Southwest, American and Spirit still had significant cancellations on Sunday.

In the past, Southwest has shifted some blame to its point-to-point networks because planes and crews can be left out of position because on aircraft will often five or six legs before returning to a major base. That’s opposed to an airline such as American, which tends to fly back and forth repeatedly between smaller cities and its hubs in Dallas, Charlotte or Chicago.

Passengers on social media complained about the delays and trouble getting through to customer service on the phone to rebook flights. Some even noted that technology channels seemed to be overwhelmed by the issues.

Some Southwest passengers are getting notified that there won’t be open flights until Monday or later.

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