Planning on flying? Hopefully your flight is not booked with Southwest Airlines, as the company has been running into issues with mass flight cancellations and delays. These cancelations and delays have impacted an estimated tens of thousands of customers and that does not even take into account the $75 million loss they took according to CNBC. While Southwest Airlines is not the only one to cancel flights, they are perhaps the most talked about in the news.
There are numerous reported reasons for the cancelations and delays of flights: One possible explanation is the volume of demand since travel has seen an increase with rules regarding the COVID-19 pandemic began to loosen with more people becoming vaccinated and infection rates going down. The biggest culprit, however, could be the staff shortage. This is not just an airline issue, it seems to be impacting numerous industries. Walking around New York City recently, it is noticeable that a lot of small businesses remain closed as they are understaffed. This can be tough on airlines, as flight attendants are needed on every flight. The Wall Street Journal reported that Southwest Airlines is over halfway to their goal of hiring 5,000 employees in 2021, but the process is still taking longer than usual.
Despite whatever may have caused all of these issues, that does not take away from how frustrating it is. I asked a friend of mine, who is currently planning on taking a trip down south via Southwest Airlines, for his thoughts regarding the cancellations. “They better not cancel my flight,” he said. It seemed like a reasonable response considering there is not a clear-cut answer as to why the flights are being canceled. He spent hundreds on his flight tickets there and back, and while a cancelation would likely result in a refund or credit of some sort, a big part of his trip revolves around an event happening that weekend. Being that he is flying from Maryland, it would not be easy if he had to suddenly change course and drive down to Alabama.
I have a lot of sympathy for those flying with Southwest Airlines and in this situation. Whether it is the unclear reasons for these issues or the fact that my flight was in danger of being canceled at the last second. Sure, the COVID-19 pandemic could still be a reason for these cancellations, but at some point or another, we kind of have to do what we have to do and travel. Some do it for work, others are traveling on vacation, and I think it can be mostly agreed upon that traveling is one of the most important things for mental health. When I went to Iceland this summer, it was my first time flying since the start of the pandemic. The process was incredibly frustrating; we had to get a last-second test because of new travel rules that were enforced the day we flew and we also had to wear our masks for the entirety of a six-hour flight (much easier said than done on a hot plane). But all of that was worth it to get to experience a beautiful city like Reykjavik, and it is one that I will not forget.
In the end, while I do think that it is a shame that Southwest Airlines is having issues, the lack of transparency is incredibly frustrating. I cannot speak for everyone, but I think having a clear answer such as a lack of workers, or concerns about the pandemic would ease some of the tension. Of course, some would still find things to complain about, but most understanding people would do what they have to do if it meant they could travel. Sooner or later, Southwest Airlines will have to be a little bit more transparent, because people can only be left in the dark for so long.