Green also referenced Southwest’s “Travel Disruption” webpage, which he claimed will allow customers affected by the cancelations to rebook in the original class of service or travel standby without facing additional charges until January 2.
Additionally, customers affected will also be able to request a refund for their cancelled flight(s) and/or reimbursement for travel expenses that were accumulated during cancellations or significant flight delays in the last few days.
Green also noted that customers separated from their luggage who have yet to be contacted can fill out a form on Southwest Airlines’ website to speed up the process.
Southwest CEO Bob Jordan had previously issued a public apology on behalf of the airline on Tuesday.
“We’re focused on safely getting all of the pieces back into position to end this rolling struggle,” Jordan said. “You know, I have nothing but pride and respect for the efforts of the people of Southwest who are showing up in every way.
“The tools we use to recover from disruption serve us well, 99 percent of the time; but clearly, we need to double down on our already existing plans to upgrade systems for these extreme circumstances so that we never again face what’s happening right now.”
Several factors have led to Southwest Airlines once again canceling the majority of its scheduled flights beyond Winter Storm Elliott.
Southwest Airlines employees haven’t been unable to communicate with the airline due to technological issues, TWU Local 556 union president Lyn Montgomery told CNN‘s Pamela Brown on Monday.
“The phone system the company uses is just not working,” Brown said. “They’re just not manned with enough manpower in order to give the scheduling changes to flight attendants, and that’s created a ripple effect that is creating chaos throughout the nation.”
Southwest Chief Operating Officer Andrew Watterson said the company’s outdated scheduling software was the main cause for the massive cancellations — which have continued even after Winter Storm Elliott cleared in most parts of the country — as some crew members were left stranded and Southwest’s crew schedulers attempted to put together a new schedule, which was complicated by the Federal Aviation Administration’s strict regulations.
“The process of matching up those crew members with the aircraft could not be handled by our technology,” Watterson said via CNN.
Captain Casey Murray, the president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, told CNN that the airline has been dealing with “these issues for the past 20 months” and said “these sorts of meltdowns occur on a much more regular basis and it really just has to do with outdated processes and outdated IT.”
Murray said the airline’s operations haven’t experienced many changes since the 1990s, which has led to numerous issues prior to the winter storm.
“It’s phones, it’s computers, it’s processing power, it’s the programs used to connect us to airplanes – that’s where the problem lies, and it’s systemic throughout the whole airline,” Murray added via CNN.
Jordan acknowledged Murray’s concerns in a message to employees obtained by CNN that promised the airline would make technological improvements.
“Part of what we’re suffering is a lack of tools,” Jordan said. “We’ve talked an awful lot about modernizing the operation, and the need to do that.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg referred to Southwest’s issues as a complete meltdown of the system while speaking with CNN this week.
“I made clear that our department will be holding them accountable for their responsibilities to customers, both to get them through this situation and to make sure that this can’t happen again.” Buttigieg said.