TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – “I’m stuck here at the Tampa [International] Airport,” said Luz Ramos.
In the middle of the night, a massive crowd stood in front of the Southwest Airlines ticketing counter at TPA.
They were just some of the stranded travelers that are growing increasingly frustrated as Southwest Airlines experiences what even CEO Bob Jordan is calling “unprecedented cancellations.”
“We’re doing everything we can to return to our normal operations,” he said. “Please also hear that I’m truly sorry.”
Jordan said the carrier took the worst hit partly because weather impacted two major hubs in Chicago and Denver.
Southwest pilot and flight attendant unions say out-dated scheduling software is also to blame.
“Clearly we need to double down on our already existing plans to upgrade systems,” Jordan said.
The airline has already cut more than 2,500 flights for Wednesday and another 1,200 for Thursday.
Luz Ramos got to TPA for her flight to San Juan, Peurto Rico Tuesday around 6 p.m.
Southwest is telling her she can’t fly out until New Year’s Eve.
“If the CEO of Southwest is watching this now, what message do you have for him?,” asked News Channel 8’s Nicole Rogers.
“Do better,” Ramos responded. “Attend for the customer.”
United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said the overall cancellation rate coming out of the storm for all the other airlines combined is around 5% of flights.
For southwest, the latest numbers that he’s seen are over 70%.
“We’re going to have to take a deeper look at what’s going on with their scheduling systems,” Buttigieg said. “Other issues that may have contributed to this because while we all understand that you can’t control the weather, this, this has clearly crossed the line from what’s an uncontrollable weather situation to something that is the airline’s direct responsibility.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation has a tool that shows all major domestic airlines’ policies on issues like meals and vouchers, and you can check to see if an airline owes you a refund.