Southwest says operations will return to normal on Friday

Southwest Airlines plans to resume normal operations on Friday and is pledging minimal disruptions.

“We are encouraged by the progress we’ve made to realign crew, their schedules and our fleet,” the carrier announced Thursday. “With another holiday weekend full of important connections for our valued customers and employees, we are eager to return to a state of normalcy.”

If Southwest is good to its word, Friday will put to an end a stretch of eight consecutive days, beginning with the onset of Winter Storm Elliott on Dec. 21, in which it canceled at least 24% of scheduled flights, FlightAware data shows. 

Since Monday, Southwest has canceled at least 58% of its daily scheduled flights to reposition aircraft and flight crews displaced during Elliott.

Overall, Southwest has canceled nearly 16,000 flights since Dec. 21, including more than 2,300 on Thursday.

The disruptions, initially caused by the winter storm, were deepened by antiquated scheduling technology, which analysts and Southwest union leaders say is no longer capable of keeping up with the carrier’s broad and complicated network. 

Southwest management has also acknowledged that the scheduling system was unable to handle the scale of disruption caused by the winter storm. On Thursday the carrier committed to addressing the issue. 

“We have much work ahead of us, including investing in new solutions to manage wide-scale disruptions,” the airline said. 

Southwest customers impacted by the past week’s disruptions can visit to rebook a flight or request a refund. The site also provides instructions for submitting reimbursement receipts for hotel, rental car and food bills incurred due to cancellations and delays.

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