Southwest Airlines CEO, Bob Jordan, has reassured travelers that Christmas travel this year will be significantly smoother compared to last year’s meltdown. The airline faced a major setback in 2022 when thousands of flights were canceled, and schedules were significantly reduced due to adverse winter weather conditions. Southwest Airlines had to issue apologies, refund customers, and provide compensation in the form of 25,000 Rapid Rewards points to affected passengers, resulting in a financial hit of nearly $1.2 billion.
Jordan acknowledges the challenges faced last year but emphasizes that it does not define Southwest Airlines. The airline has taken proactive measures to enhance its operational preparedness for winter, including improved training, the addition of new cold-weather equipment such as de-icing trucks, and the establishment of a “disruption pod” to facilitate faster responses to problems. Southwest has also developed new software to coordinate potential changes in aircraft and crew schedules.
While Jordan acknowledges that perfection during winter is challenging, he affirms that the airline is well-prepared for the upcoming holiday season. Southwest Airlines had previously announced a reduction in midweek flying capacity by cutting back flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Additionally, the airline is exploring the possibility of operating red-eye flights in the future.
As the holiday season approaches, airlines are gearing up for a busy period, with a record-breaking 7.5 million travelers expected to fly over the December and January holidays, according to AAA. Airports are projected to experience the highest levels of activity ever during the holiday period.