The Department of Transportation is Looking Into Southwest Airlines’ Massive Number of Cancellations

The Department of Transportation is looking into Southwest Airlines’ massive number of cancellations. The airline has been plagued with bad luck, as a winter storm hit its biggest hubs in Chicago and Denver.

Senators are calling on Southwest to compensate passengers for ruined travel plans. They want the airline to offer rebooking, ticket refunds and hotel, food and transportation reimbursements.


A punishing winter storm caused widespread flight cancellations this week, and Southwest has been hardest hit. On Wednesday, it canceled about 2,500 flights, or more than half of its planned flights, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.

Airline scheduling is a complicated process, taking into account union rules and airline policies, says Kathleen Bangs, a former commercial pilot and spokeswoman for FlightAware. And although airlines say they are restoring normal operations, the cancellations are likely to continue for days to come.

For travelers like Katie McNamara, a Brooklyn art director visiting family in Mississippi for the holidays, finding another way home isn’t easy. She was forced to stay an extra day because of her canceled flight and now has no other options until Jan. 31. The airline has set up a self-service portal to help passengers get refunds for hotel rooms and ground transportation. But requests are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The DOT has criticized the company for “acceptable rates of flight delays and cancellations and inadequate customer service.” It will examine whether Southwest has fulfilled its customer service plan and other requirements.


As Winter Storm Elliott wreaked havoc on the nation’s airports, Southwest stood out from the rest of the airline industry, drawing unwanted attention from Washington. The Dallas-based carrier’s systemic disruptions, caused by a combination of bad luck and poor planning, frustrated travelers who spent their holiday stuck in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport or separated from stacks of unclaimed luggage at Denver International Airport.

The company attributed the problems to a combination of severe weather and staffing issues. The airline’s vice president of ground operations circulated a memo on Dec. 21 declaring a “state of operational emergency” at the airline’s hub in Denver after an unusually high number of ramp workers called in sick for afternoon and evening shifts, reports say.

Airline scheduling is a complicated system that takes into account union rules, government regulations and airline policies, experts say. And the way it works, a flight’s status can change in minutes from safe to canceled, which leads to planes and crews being pushed around the country in a frantic attempt to keep them on schedule.


While Southwest Airlines has been able to get flights going again, there are still plenty of people who have not had any luck getting home for the holidays. If your travel is affected, check with your travel insurance to see if you can have hotel and food expenses reimbursed.

Southwest is making some improvements to its fleet, such as introducing power ports at every seat and upgrading in-flight Wi-Fi on existing planes to a newer generation with faster bandwidth. That should be available to most passengers by the fall.

Southwest is unique among major airlines, following a point-to-point model that allows its planes to fly directly from smaller cities and regions to larger destinations without having to stop at hub airports like Denver or New York City. This allows it to cut travel times by a significant amount compared to other carriers. That model also requires fewer employees. However, the airline has seen significant staffing problems this month during the winter weather disruptions.


Last year, Southwest had to cancel nearly two-thirds of its flights after a massive winter storm caused the airline to buckle under the weight of an antiquated computer system. The airline was forced to offer refunds and food vouchers for irate customers after the chaos and lost $75 million in revenue.

Its service meltdown occurred after a winter storm and before the start of the summer travel season, when passengers can expect to see more flight delays due to weather and illness. While other airlines experienced some service disruptions during the storm, Southwest’s problems were much more serious because of an old internal system that handles crew scheduling.

That system is called Skysolver and it can only handle so many flight cancellations before it grinds to a halt. The software has been around for decades, but the company hasn’t spent money to keep it up to date or replace it with something more modern. As a result, the system is often overwhelmed during times of trouble and staffing is disrupted.

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The Best Places to Visit in Osaka, Japan

After the destruction of World War II, Osaka recovered quickly to become one of Japan’s leading centers of commerce and cultural activity. Its citizens became more prosperous and took an interest in scholarly work, bunraku, and kabuki.

Osaka has always been an international city, and the people there have open attitudes towards different values and new forms of culture.

1. Dotonbori

Known for its towering neon signs, Dotonbori is one of the most famous places to visit in Osaka. It’s a nightlife and shopping district that attracts revellers from across the city.

Dotonbori has a history as an entertainment hub and still hosts several traditional kabuki theatres and a Takeda Karakuri mechanical puppet theatre. It is also a great place to sample Osaka’s famous food, including okonomiyaki – savory pancakes – and takoyaki – cooked batter-balls stuffed with octopus.

The famous Glico Running Man billboard is one of the main landmarks of Dotonbori. The area is also renowned for its busy covered shopping arcades, called shotengai, that run along the street. The mascot for the area is Kuidaore Taro, a drumming doll that resembles Wally from Where’s Wally?

2. Tenma

Tenma is home to the Osaka Tenmangu Shrine, as well as the Tenjinbashi-suji shopping street. It is a popular area to visit with locals, especially for the food yokozushi (Japanese-style BBQ). Try out some of the many restaurants in the area! Some dishes to try are skirt steak, spare ribs, and beef tongue. Also, don’t forget to try the Osaka specialty kotecchan, which is small intestine that has been grilled.

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3. Horie

While Dotonbori is a larger than life street theater, Horie is a genteel area where designers and long term expats spend their evenings. Its quiet streets are lined with a mix of piano bars and cafes, reminiscent of the Upper West Side in Manhattan.

Originally a lumber region, this neighborhood is known for its fashionability. Lined with brand shops and cafes that are ahead of the times, this region attracts a younger crowd than other areas in Osaka.

Located equidistant from Yotsubashi station, Nishi Ohashi, and Sakuragawa stations, this area is easily accessible. The restaurant Ajikitcho Horie is a traditional Japanese eatery that’s been featured in Michelin eight years running and is owned by an owner who has a forward-thinking attitude and can accommodate for any particular dining needs (provided you let them know ahead of time). For example, the chef prepares a Muslim-friendly set menu without pork and pork derivatives.

4. Amerika-mura

For those looking to immerse themselves in Japan’s youth culture, Amerika-mura (amerika Cun) is the place to be. This colorful area west of Shinsaibashi is a hub of fashion stores, music clubs and bars. The town is centered on Sankaku Koen Park, a triangular concrete plaza where young people show off their latest styles. It’s also a town of art, with the mural “PEACE ON EARTH” painted by Seitaro Kuroda and street lights shaped like humans.

Amerika-mura earned its name in the 1970s when local warehouses began filling up with shops selling American goods. Now it’s a compact enclave of youth-focused and offbeat stores, plus cafes, tattoo and piercing parlors, nightclubs and discreet love hotels. The district is also home to a number of concerts at its bars.

5. Shinsaibashi

One of the most popular shopping destinations in Osaka, Shinsaibashi is a huge 580-meter long arc-shaped roof commercial street. Around 60,000 people visit the area on weekdays and 120,000 on weekends, making it a major tourist attraction. This is where you can find everything from high-fashion retailers like GU and Uniqlo to top-class brands at Daimaru Shinsaibashi. There are also reasonably priced Japanese shops such as WEGO, United Arrows, and Samantha Thavasa, plus the ubiquitous drug stores you’d find in any other country.

Easily accessible by subway, the area is home to the main shopping streets and malls of Osaka, and it’ll take most people a full day to get through all the choices. Stay at a Choice Hotels Osaka Shinsaibashi and be a short walk from all the action.

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