Dozens of flights canceled at RDU on Tuesday morning as DOT vows to investigate Southwest Airlines

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Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Dozens of flights canceled at RDU; DOT to probe Southwest
Southwest Airlines continues Tuesday to deal with a crisis that has left thousands of passengers stranded all across the country.

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Southwest Airlines continues Tuesday to deal with a crisis that has left thousands of passengers stranded all across the country.

Southwest canceled 60 percent of its flights nationwide Tuesday. On Monday, 70 percent were canceled.

At RDU, 34 flights were canceled Tuesday morning--with 32 of those being flights from Southwest Airlines.

According to Southwest, the cancellations are a result of bad weather wreaking havoc with Southwest's point-to-point network of flights, which is unique among major airlines.

'It's been catastrophic': Southwest Airlines cancels thousands of flights across the country

The U.S. Department of Transportation says it will look into flight cancellations by Southwest Airlines that have left travelers stranded.

"Southwest's problem is really is the system is out of kilter, and the snowstorm is moving, and they just haven't been able to reset the operation," said DePaul University professor and aviation expert Joe Schwieterman.

The U.S. Department of Transportation tweeted, "USDOT is concerned by Southwest's unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service. The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan."

Southwest captain and union president Casey Murray told ABC News the situation was "catastrophic."

SEE ALSO: What can I do if my flight is canceled, delayed? How to prepare for likely 2022 holiday travel mess

"It's been a failure at every level at Southwest. Our pilots, our front line employees have worked under enormous stress to try to get our passengers from A to B, but we were dealt a really bad hand as far as Southwest is concerned," Murray said.

The flight attendant union also released a statement, saying in part, "Southwest Airlines has failed its employees once again, the result of years of refusal to modernize operations, notes TWU Local 556, the union of Southwest Airlines flight attendants. And this time, it's on Christmas."

Southwest issued a statement addressing the situation, writing in part, "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."

READ MORE: Family headed to funeral gets stuck at RDU after flight canceled

Monday travel woes

On Tuesday, about 75% of the flight cancellations at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Monday were on Southwest.

The issue was so dire that Southwest chartered a coach bus to take passengers on a canceled flight to Nashville - about a nine-hour drive.

Several people said they got on board the bus because they had to get to work Tuesday and it was better than dealing with a very long line of passengers trying to get rebooked on other flights.

"I did not anticipate having to go from an 1.5-hour flight to an 8-hour road trip. I have to work this week, so getting in at 2 a.m. is an inconvenience," Alondre Tucker said. "Southwest has not said anything to me about compensation. I stopped a crew member to ask, and they didn't have an answer. I haven't received any type of apology from Southwest, compensation or a refund."

Eric Forde was in Raleigh visiting his parents. His flight was canceled and he was one of the passengers who opted to take the coach bus Southwest chartered to Tennessee.

"Our plane, we tracked the plane, it's coming back from Baltimore and it is on its way, but they still canceled the flight," Forde said. "This is kind of ridiculous. A lot of us have to get back to work tomorrow so we don't have a choice."

Hersh Patel, on the other hand, chose not to take the bus; staying with his family for a few extra days.

"I was kind of shocked the first I heard it," Patel said. "A few people laughed, but if you've got to get there, you've got to get there.

Antonia Knighten's flight got canceled, and she can't get back to New Orleans until Friday.

She got a $200 voucher in return for her troubles.

"I could lose my job since they're not flying us out until the 30th," Knighten said. "I don't like it. I would not fly with them no more."

Knighten is staying overnight with her daughter and was hopeful her oldest daughter might come and drive her back

"It's all screwed up," she said. "They knew before, they knew this the other day, this morning, they knew they weren't going to have pilots."

Pattie Gardebled said she left Houston on Sunday to try to get to RDU. She stopped in Nashville and her flight got canceled there, so she drove from Nashville but her bags didn't make it.

She said she didn't want to wait in Nashville to get her bags because it was supposed to be a five-hour wait to get them. Now, she said she or her husband will have to drive back from Carolina Beach to get the bags while they're there.

"All the Christmas presents for the grandbabies are in there," Gardebled said. "All the homemade ones. But what really matters is we'll still be able to get to Carolina Beach where we're meeting everybody and we'll have time with family.

"We have never encountered in any country travel like this, and we've lived in difficult countries to live in," she added.