Southwest cancels more than 600 flights Monday, denies sickout

Monday is another day of flight cancellations for Southwest Airlines, with 360 canceled as of midafternoon, and more than 600 delayed. Eight flights were canceled at Southwest Florida International Airport.

This comes after the company canceled more than 2,000 flights over the weekend citing weather and air traffic control issues triggering delays in getting aircrafts and crews repositioned.

The widespread disruptions began shortly after the pilots’ union asked a federal court on Friday to block the airline’s order that all employees get vaccinated against COVID-19. But both the company and its pilots’ union denied reports of a sickout to protest mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations.

Laura Lesinski was traveling from Fort Myers back to Arizona on Monday and said, “It’s hard. I mean we are having a great time, but it also costs money to stay extra. Hotel. food. travel. Another two days is a big expense.”

Her flight was one of the eight canceled that day.

“On Wednesday it could be the exact same situation and we could be right back here at the airport.” But Lesinski hopes that’s not the case.

Southwest said they are working as quickly as they can to get operations back to normal.

If your flight is canceled, go to the Southwest Airlines counter at the airport. They will be able to better help you than a representative on the phone. Impacted passengers are receiving new flights and vouchers for the inconvenience.

Southwest has struggled all summer with high numbers of delayed and canceled flights. In August, it announced it was trimming its Sept. schedule by 27 flights a day, or less than 1%, and 162 flights a day, or 4.5% of the schedule, from early Oct. through Nov. 5.

Southwest Airlines said in a statement to WINK News Sunday: 

“We experienced weather challenges in our Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, challenges that were compounded by unexpected air traffic control issues in the same region, triggering delays and prompting significant cancellations for us beginning Friday evening. We’ve continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and Crews repositioned to take care of our Customers.

“With fewer frequencies between cities in our current schedule, recovering during operational challenges is more difficult and prolonged.

“We’re working diligently to accommodate our Customers as quickly as possible, and we are grateful for their patience. We’re offering Customers added flexibility to explore self-service rebooking options on, where they can get updates on the status of their travel. We know the frustration flight cancellations are creating for our Customers and Employees and we apologize, and we again thank everyone for patience as we work first to be safe, and second to be as quick as possible in solving disrupted plans.”

Reporter:Andryanna Sheppard
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