Southwest Airlines cancels hundreds of flights, blames air traffic control and 'disruptive weather'

Passengers spent the night in airport terminals across the U.S. and here in Houston

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Sunday, October 10, 2021
Southwest cancels hundreds of flights, passengers lash out
From Houston to Chicago and beyond, stranded travelers are frustrated, and the airline blames disruptive weather and air traffic control problems.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Hundreds of Southwest Airlines flights have been canceled or delayed, including dozens at Houston's Hobby Airport as part of a major nationwide problem.

The airline blames the issues on air traffic control problems and weather, according to a statement provided to ABC13.

From Houston to Chicago and beyond, stranded travelers are frustrated, and the airline blames "disruptive weather" and air traffic control problems.

The flight tracking website shows that Southwest canceled more than 1,000 flights Sunday across the country and there were delays impacting more than 150 flights.

"Soooo don't fly southwest today! I've never seen so many cancelled flights! They're saying it's due to "weather" LOL! Okay I'll pretend I believe it," one traveler tweeted.

"My family is stuck in Houston without our luggage and sleeping in our clothes," another passenger tweeted. "My wife and son are sleeping in their contacts as they have no solution or spares. We don't have their medications. This is your fault @SouthwestAir. @HobbyAirport is complicit!"

On Sunday afternoon, Southwest Airlines sent ABC13 the following statement:

"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."

Rumors circulated Saturday of an anti-COVID-19 vaccine walkout at Jacksonville, Florida's air traffic control center, but those reports were unfounded so far as of Sunday morning.

"Talking to a few people who work there, seems like it was the perfect storm of holiday weekend traffic, wx, and staffing," @ATCSkyCat tweeted. "Not gonna stop the conspiracy theories though."

The Federal Aviation Administration told ABC News that no air traffic staffing shortages were reported over the weekend. The agency attributed a few flight cancellations and delays on Friday to severe weather, military training and limited staffing at the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center.

"Some airlines continue to experience scheduling challenges due to aircraft and crews being out of place," an FAA spokesperson said in a statement.