Thousands of Southwest flights cancelled, delayed: here’s what passengers can do

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In this Nov. 18, 2020 file photo, a worker uses a flashlight to inspect an engine on a Boeing 737 Max 8 built for Southwest Airlines at Renton Municipal Airport in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Southwest Airlines canceled hundreds more flights today following a weekend of major service disruptions.

The airline blamed air traffic control issues and the weather for its quote “operational challenges.”

Experts say a possible reason for the canceled flights could be Southwest’s recent vaccine mandate for staff. emphasizing it could cause work to slowdown.

“Literally 20 minutes before it was ‘Oh, it got cancelled,’” said Ijeliel Faraj, a Southwest passenger. “I am extremely frustrated.”

Southwest Airlines has cancelled over 2,000 flights since Sunday.

“The inconvenience is just on a whole other level,” Faraj said.

“No explanation at all,” said Mary Kay Swinford, a Southwest passenger. “Flight has been cancelled, that was it.”

The airline, the FAA and union leaders are all giving different explanations as to why. 

The FAA did not respond to our request for an interview but provided this statement:

No FAA air traffic staffing shortages have been reported since Friday. Flight delays and cancellations occurred for a few hours Friday afternoon due to widespread severe weather, military training, and limited staffing in one area of the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center. Some airlines continue to experience scheduling challenges due to aircraft and crews being out of place. Please contact the airlines for details about current flight schedules.

 “Normally, no more than 1% of flights get canceled, and no more than 25 or 30% get delayed,” said Paul Hudson, President of FlyersRights.org. “But we’re looking at a situation that’s just off the charts here.”

So what are your rights if your flight gets cancelled?

“If an airline cancels or excessively, delays your flight, you have a right to a cash refund,” Hudson said.

Hudson says if an airline offers you a later flight or voucher, you don’t have to take it.

“If you’re at the airport, and your flight is being excessively delayed or canceled, then you can try to take your ticket to another carrier,” Hudson said.

Southwest passengers say they scrambling to find other options.

all hoping to get to their destinations soon.

“Anxious to get home,” Swinford said. “I hope we get there.”

There is a Flyers Rights hotline you can call if you get stranded or get bumped to another flight. That number is 877-FLYERS6 or email hotline@flyersrights.org.

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