Southwest Airlines/Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk
While you’re still stuck at some crowded airport — perhaps one where the police are telling you that you’re trespassing — the apologies have begun.
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Southwest Airlines CEO Robert Jordan finally, after more than two days of chaos, offered a heartfelt video of apology.
I’m sorry. I meant an utterly robotic video of an apology written, it appeared, by a lawyer.
On the heels of wide-scale disruptions, we’re working diligently to Safely recover our operation & accommodate displaced Customers & Crews. We know this is unacceptable & sincerely apologize. If your travel was impacted, explore self-service options here: https://t.co/B6L8HR9Yqc pic.twitter.com/mLWndYMned
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) December 28, 2022
Of course, as the apologies rained down in an unconvincing squall, apologists emerged too. Perhaps half a million customers had their journeys ruined but this was the “perfect storm,” they declared.
Oh yes. So very perfect. Poor unlucky Southwest Airlines.
The weather was so, so much fiercer than the airline had imagined. Who could have conceived places like Chicago and Denver could get so cold in December? Who could have imagined, indeed, that some employees might not want to work in such cold, or might fall sick while doing so?
And who could have imagined that the airline’s management might have responded with, oh, harsh words to those employees and demands that they bring a doctor’s note?
It’s not as if other airlines weren’t affected. Wait, but Southwest canceled 2,293 flights on Dec. 26, while American Airlines canceled 12?
Software? What Software?
But then there was the software.
The airline has software systems from the 1990s. Southwest had to try and contact their pilots and crew last week by phone because there was no app or other more advanced technological means available to discover where they were. Some crew say they couldn’t get through for 10 hours.
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Please let’s not say no one could see this supposed perfect storm coming.
When he became Southwest CEO, Robert Jordan freely confessed the airline’s systems were antiquated.
May I offer you just one of his prescient observations?: “When you’re in irregular operations (such as cancelations and delays caused by weather or other factors), I’ve got aircraft out of place and customers out of place, and this aircraft needs to end up in that maintenance base. There are probably tools that we can use to more quickly notice problems and provide solutions.”
You see, dear Southwest customer? The airline’s CEO told you this could happen last January. As did Southwest’s pilots.
I confess, however, I never contemplated flying Southwest during any sort of busy or weather-threatened period. I learned, you see, about Southwest’s abject attitude toward technology a few …….