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Hundreds of Southwest Airlines flights were again delayed or canceled on Wednesday as the company tried to fix the disruptions from earlier in the week.
According to FlightAware, a flight tracking service, about 8 percent of the airline’s flights were canceled and another 14 percent delayed by Wednesday noon.
The headache for Southwest, its employees and customers began Monday night when a weather data provider experienced performance issues that prevented the airline from safely flying planes. The problem was resolved within hours. On Tuesday, the airline suffered from its own technological problems for a few hours, leading to another round of delays and cancellations. Spillover from that episode caused the problems on Wednesday, the airline said.
“Although our technology issues were resolved Tuesday, we are still experiencing a small number of cancellations and delays across our network as we continue to work to resume normal operations,” said Dan Landson, a spokesman for Southwest, in a statement .
The flight disruptions came at a critical point in time.
After demand for travel plummeted during the pandemic, Southwest and other airlines are seeing a recovery as coronavirus cases in the US decline and vaccinations increase. More and more people are flying on summer vacation and businesses and states and cities are opening up – California and New York governors said Tuesday they lifted most of the pandemic restrictions. The Transportation Security Administration screened more than two million people at airports on Sunday, more than ever since March 2020.
Southwest was fortunate that the delays and cancellations occurred during a part of the week that is usually less busy.
One passenger, Efia Brown, and her daughter were trying to return from Los Angeles to their St. Louis home on Monday when Southwest Airlines canceled a connecting flight while they waited at the Denver airport. Ms. Brown’s daughter fell ill on her previous flight and after the airline informed her of the cancellation, Ms. Brown booked another one Tuesday for 9:30 p.m. But her daughter had to be hospitalized on Tuesday after vomiting several times in the airport gate and the family is still in Denver.
“It’s very disappointing because this is the only airline I fly with,” said Ms. Brown. “When that happened it was so frustrating that I had to hold back my tears.”
The disruptions were also difficult for Southwest employees, said Lyn Montgomery, president of Transport Workers Union Local 556, which represents Southwest flight attendants. The airline’s management has regularly kept flight attendants updated and worked to provide accommodation for the stranded, she said, adding that such outages do happen.
“We are all victims of computer and computer problems,” she said, “and when it happens with an airline it is usually massive.”