Southwest Airlines to operate at one-third capacity for ‘several days’

A Southwest Airlines aircraft taxis in the snow.
Photo Credit: Southwest Airlines

LONDON – With Winter Storm Elliott causing chaos across the continental United States, airlines have been forced to continue to cancel many flights due severe weather conditions.

Yesterday, Southwest Airlines cancelled almost 2,900 flights, and was hit harder than many of its competitors.

The airline has advised that they will be operating at approximately one-third normal capacity with respect to scheduled flights “for the next several days”.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is reportedly looking into the reasons for the relatively high number of flight cancellations and delays, to ascertain whether the airline is “complying with its customer service plan, as well as all other pertinent DOT rules.”

Southwest Airlines statement

Facing public criticism for the relatively high number of flight cancellations, as well as DOT scrutiny, Southwest Airlines has now released the following public statement”

“With consecutive days of extreme winter weather across our network behind us, continuing challenges are impacting our Customers and Employees in a significant way that is unacceptable.

And our heartfelt apologies for this are just beginning.

We’re working with Safety at the forefront to urgently address wide-scale disruption by rebalancing the airline and repositioning Crews and our fleet ultimately to best serve all who plan to travel with us.

We were fully staffed and prepared for the approaching holiday weekend when the severe weather swept across the continent, where Southwest is the largest carrier in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the U.S.

These operational conditions forced daily changes to our flight schedule at a volume and magnitude that still has the tools our teams use to recover the airline operating at capacity.

This safety-first work is intentional, ongoing, and necessary to return to normal reliability, one that minimizes last-minute inconveniences.

As we continue the work to recover our operation, we have made the decision to continue operating a reduced schedule by flying roughly one third of our schedule for the next several days.

And we’re working to reach Customers whose travel plans will change to offer specific information and available options, also available at

Our Employees and Crews scheduled to work this holiday season are showing up in every single way. We are beyond grateful for that.

Our shared goal is to take care of every single Customer with the Hospitality and Heart for which we’re known.

On the other side of this, we’ll work to make things right for those we’ve let down, including our Employees.

With no concern higher than ultimate Safety, the People of Southwest share a goal to take care of each and every Customer. We recognize falling short and sincerely apologize.”


Winter Storm Elliott and the associated severe winter weather conditions have caused the cancellation of approximately 17,000 flights into, out and across the continental United States since last Wednesday.

NBC News has reported that Monday’s figures for flight cancellations included around 300 for Delta Air Lines, 130 for United Airlines and at least 2,893 for Southwest Airlines.

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