Image for article titled 'Outdated' Scheduling Software Could Be to Blame for Holiday Travel Nightmare at Southwest Airlines

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There are screw-ups after which there are screw-ups, and then there’s the disastrous vacation scheduling shitstorm ravaging Southwest Airlines proper now. Though the airline initially blamed its tidal wave of mass flight cancellations and delays on unavoidable winter storms, an enraged pilot and union consultant on the airliner says one thing way more controllable might have performed a task: outdated software program.

In an interview with Insider this week, Vice President of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association Mike Santoro admitted harsh winter climate performed a task within the delays however went on guilty the sustained obliteration of flights on “outdated” software program. Santoro stated the methods answerable for maintaining with​​ pilots’ and flight attendants’ areas had been shortly overwhelmed, forcing schedulers to start out holding tabs by hand. In some circumstances, Santoro stated flights had been being canceled fully on account of an absence of workers although ample quantities of flight attendants and different staff had been onboard and keen to work.

“Even though we had a crew available, [scheduling] had no idea those flight attendants were in the back of the airplane,” Santoro stated. “The problem is the software just doesn’t keep track of us.”

Southwest flight attendant union president Lyn Montgomery reiterated these considerations in a latest interview with Houston’s KHOU, saying flight attendants relied on an “outdated” telephone rescheduling system that was simply overbooked.

“You simply can’t make enough phone calls, you can’t make thousands of phone calls at once,” Montgomery stated. Southwest, for its half, issued a new statement on Tuesday saying “operational conditions” and unprecedented quantity challenged its flight scheduling instruments.

In an e-mail, a spokesperson from Southwest declined to reply Gizmodo’s questions concerning the alleged scheduling software program and as a substitute directed us to a latest video assertion from CEO Bob Jordan by which he referred to as the catastrophe a “giant puzzle.”

“Our network is highly complex and the operation of the airline counts on all the pieces, especially aircraft and crews remaining in motion to where they’re planned to go,” Jordan stated. “After days of trying to operate as much of our full schedule across the busy holiday weekend, we reached a decision point to significantly reduce our flying to catch up.”

It’s tough to overstate the size of vacation chaos inflicted by Southwest’s sudden scheduling collapse. The airline alone has reportedly canceled 15,700 flights since December 22 and remains to be scrapping flights on the time of writing. While loads of different airways moved to cancel their operations in response to inclement climate, the ache wasn’t proportional. On Wednesday, according to flight monitoring web site FlightAware, 2,507 of the two,770 cancellations made for flights inside, into, or out of the U.S. had been operated, yep you guessed it, by Southwest. The airline was answerable for 84% of all canceled flights inside or out of the U.S. on Tuesday, December 29.

Those allegations of points with the corporate’s inside scheduling software program have provoked a backlash from hundreds of heartbroken vacationers, furious lawmakers, and extra lately, suspicious officers on the Department of Transportation.

“Southwest cannot avoid compensating passengers by claiming these flight cancellations were caused by recent winter storms,” Democratic senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal, wrote in a joint statement Tuesday. “As Southwest executives have acknowledged, the mass cancellations yesterday were largely due to the failure of its own internal systems. As such, those cancellations should be categorized as ‘controllable,’ and Southwest should compensate passengers accordingly.”

The senators accused Southwest of “failing” hundreds of shoppers, lots of whom watched helplessly as their household vacation plans withered earlier than their eyes. In addition to rebooking delayed or canceled flights, the senators stated the airline ought to decide to “significant monetary compensation for the disruption.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN this week he mentioned points with “legacy systems” for scheduling throughout a dialog with CEO Bob Jordan. The former Democratic presidential nominee went on to say, “their [Southwest’s] system really has completely melted down.”

“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 added.

Meanwhile, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation chair Maria Cantwell sassist her committee will launch an investigation probing the foundation causes of the Southwest catastrophe. Other lawmakers like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren used the chance to attract consideration to an increase in company consolidation overtaking the airways trade, which she blamed partially for leaving U.S. vacationers unable to seek out viable flight alternate options.

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