Southwest Airlines Cancels 2000 Flights And Blames It On “Weather”

During the weekend of October 8th, major commercial airline Southwest reportedly cancelled over 2,400 flights, stranding tens of thousands all over the country.  

Henry Wilkins, Paw Print Reporter

On October 5th, Southwest installed a vaccine mandate for all of its employees, including its pilots.  This mandate was a result of the new executive order that requires companies with federal contracts to have fully vaccinated staff.  Three days later, Southwest flights all over the country were cancelled and postponed. 

Immediately, many people took to Twitter to make their best guesses as to why this was happening, and countless came to the same conclusion: That there was some sort of strike.  A user commented on one of Southwest’s tweets saying, “Word is it’s a vaccine mandate strike.  Employees calling out sick.  Nationwide cancellations.  We’re stuck in BWI [Baltimore Washington International Airport] until Tuesday.  Really hope Southwest isn’t lying about this being weather or ATC[Air Traffic Control] related.”  As the quote says above, a main way that strikes happen nowadays is through sickouts.  All the pilots would basically call in sick, and not show up.  “We can say with confidence that our pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions,” the union, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said in the statement.

This would have been a reasonable claim if 300 flights were cancelled, but most people on twitter were not convinced. They thought it was very convenient that if there were weather and air traffic control issues, Southwest would not be obligated to pay for customers’ hotels.  On the other hand, if there were to be a strike, Southwest would have to buy every single person a hotel room until their next flight.  Looking at the weather in the United States over the weekend of the 8th, there were not any conditions that wouldn’t allow planes to fly.  On a day where twenty five percent of Southwest flights were cancelled, less than three percent of American Airlines flights were cancelled.  This brought itself up as a huge red flag to victims of the cancellation.  It seemed like most people on Twitter weren’t mad at the fact the pilots might have been on strike, they were mad about the possibility that Southwest was lying to save money.  

Things started to calm down over the next week.  Southwest rescheduled cancelled flights, and gave flight credits to all the customers whose flights were cancelled.  They stuck to their weather claim, and didn’t pay for any hotels, but none of the strike accusations dished out were credible either.  As a result of the cancellations, Southwest stock has fallen from $54 to $49.77, or an 8% decrease in one day, which has made an impression on possible customers or investors that they are unreliable.  There is no current method of proving the apparent strike, and the vaccine mandate is not a good scapegoat for all of the cancellations.