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What Southwest Airlines is Doing to Avoid Repeating Winter Holiday Issues

Southwest Airlines President and CEO Bob Jordan released a statement on Tuesday about what the company is doing to avoid the number of delays and cancellations experienced by travelers during the winter holiday travel period.

In total, Southwest canceled more than 16,700 flights between December 21-31.


To reduce the risk of future operational disruptions, the carrier immediately established supplemental staffing that can quickly mobilize to support crew recovery efforts and enhanced engagement technology to efficiently communicate with large numbers of employees during frequent schedule changes.

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The company also updated its crew recovery system to not only solve current and future schedules, but also provide the ability to optimize established schedules as they are revised during irregular operations.

“We are currently budgeted to spend more than $1 billion of our annual operating plan on investments, upgrades, and maintenance of our IT systems,” Jordan said. “The recent disruption will accelerate our plans to enhance our processes and technology as we continue to focus on adding capabilities to bring rapid improvements for you, our valued customers.”

Moving forward, Southwest is working with a third-party global aviation consulting firm, Oliver Wyman, to complete an assessment of the event and make recommendations for additional mitigation elements.

In addition, the airline’s Board of Directors appointed an Operations Review Committee to work with management to understand the events and help oversee the company’s response.

As for impacted customers, Jordan said the carrier had “returned virtually all of the bags we had on hand from the event, have processed nearly all refunds and are processing tens of thousands of reimbursement requests a day.”

The CEO also said Southwest offered those most significantly impacted travelers 25,000 Rapid Rewards points as a gesture of goodwill for the inconvenience.

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