This will be my final update on the Southwest trouble that by now needs no introduction. We are grateful to our Employees for their dedication and our Customers for their patience, loyalty, and understanding as we worked to rebuild.
Today was the first day we could say, definitively, that our Operation is back on track. We know there are many, many Customers who still require assistance, having been inconvenienced by the disruptions. Flexible accommodations remain in effect for Customers who hold booked travel from Wednesday the 20th through Tuesday the 26th of July. These Customers have two weeks from their original date of departure to rebook and begin travel at the original fare, with no additional cost. You can do that on southwest.com.
If you're seeking a refund and did not book a refundable fare, we will still honor that refund, but you'll have to call us. I recommend you call when it's convenient for you, when volumes have returned to normal. It may take some time, but you have a year from when you purchased the ticket before that will no longer be an option. Refunds and requests must be submitted and processed by the ticket's expiration date.
Again--thank you. We know it's a long journey to re-earning your trust, but it's our mission to do it.
UPDATED Saturday, July 23 at 2:00 p.m. CDT:
Things are getting better, and our cautious optimism is starting to become tangible as the Operation stabilizes.
Our most pressing concern right now is weather, and our Meteorologists report the potential for afternoon and early evening thunderstorms in the Chicago metro area. We're paying extra attention to Chicago right now to navigate that system accordingly. Other airports currently under the microscope for weather--albeit with less emphasis-- are Des Moines, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver, and areas in the Southeast.
We've done a lot of apologizing to our Customers and have thanked our Employees for their hard work, but what we haven't done is thanked both for having respect for one another. The last four days have tested patience and heightened emotions. Through it all, we have seen remarkable examples of People banding together to help each other. Our Customers need to be commended for keeping as positive an attitude as could be expected during such an unprecedented event at Southwest Airlines. While the system and our Employees and Customers were stressed and recovering, safety remained our first priority, with our aircraft, our Crews, our ground personnel, and our Customers.
Customers and Employees have shown compassion for each other by keeping each others' spirits up, paying for each others' meals, and showcasing their talents and skills during a very trying time. Take this group of scouts who pitched tents in the Denver airport.
Or this Pilot who took children aside to make origami planes.
This group of teens in Midway got the terminal buzzing when they danced on the walkway.
In our Centers, pep talks helped Employees focus on the day.
A young lady in San Jose wasn't able to get home to her parents in time to celebrate her birthday, and on one of our internal groups, Employees shared the story about how they banded together to throw her a birthday party in the airport to lift her spirits. This is a situation that neither the Employees nor the Customers planned to be in, or should have had to deal with. But it's also not in the job description to throw birthday parties.
Make no mistake, Southwest created this problem. We own that, and there is no victory lap to be had for a situation that has bred disappointment and shaken the trust Customers have in Southwest Airlines. But during a terrible situation such as this, Love Above All remained the theme, as we tried to get everyone back in the air.
The machines failed, but Heart prevailed.
UPDATED Friday, July 22 at 10:45 p.m. CDT:
I wanted to provide you with a Friday night update on our Operation. This afternoon, we were able to catch up and fully assess the state of our Crews across the system. As a result of that assessment, we had an unexpected uptick in cancelations due to mandatory Crew timeouts. Safety is our top priority and FAA regulations require mandatory rest--it is not safe for Crews to fly beyond the required time, and our Employees are understandably taxed working to get back on track from this unique situation.
For our fresh Crews, we expect to extend our Operation past our normal flying times, in airports that do not have a curfew in place.
Unrelated but something we're keeping an eye on, there are thunderstorms in the Southwest that our Meteorologists are monitoring. As of this writing, that weather system has not impacted flying.
We are optimistic about our Operation tomorrow. We have a reduced schedule on Saturdays. We expect some cancelations, but far fewer than we experienced Thursday and Friday morning.
You're tired of hearing sorry--I know that--but I must reiterate we are doing everything we can to make things right. We are truly sorry and value you as Customers and People. Volumes remain high, but our Employees at the airport and in our Call Centers continue to work hard to meet your needs. Our Representatives are able to rebook travel, refund your money, and answer your questions. Our Social Customer Care Employees are working around the clock to do the same. If you have flexibility or your question is not urgent, we recommend contacting us once our volumes are at a more manageable level.
Thank you again.
UPDATED Friday, July 22 at 1:00 p.m. CDT:
We were live from Network Operations Control to discuss the latest on our efforts throughout the system.
UPDATED Friday, July 22 at 10:00 a.m. CDT:
I wanted to provide the latest update regarding our outage recovery. We continue to manage through lingering disruptions following performance issues across multiple technology systems Wednesday. As of 6:00 a.m. Central (CDT), planners have canceled more than 250 flights today, primarily as a result of displaced Crews and aircraft. We're continuing our focus on getting Customers and their baggage to their destinations safely.
Our Employees in airports, online, and on the phone are assisting a significant number of Customers and hold times are much longer than average. In the midst of peak, Summertime travel, we recognize many flights through this weekend were already close to full and as cancellations continue, we recommend Customers who have flexibility explore rebooking on alternate dates beyond Sunday by checking availability on Southwest.com. Customers who are holding booked travel Wednesday the 20th through Sunday the 24th of July have two weeks from their original date of departure to rebook travel at the original fare, at no additional cost.
We extend a heartfelt apology to our Employees and our Customers who are inconvenienced by the disruption in service. We appreciate their patience as we continue our work to make this right.
Customers traveling today should check flight status on Southwest.com and plan to arrive at the airport early, as longer than average lines are likely.
UPDATED Thursday, July 21 at 4:50 p.m. CDT:
I wanted to provide the latest update regarding our outage recovery. Systems are stabilized and have been performing normally throughout today. Our main challenge right now is getting our Employees to the right places. As Mike Van de Ven mentioned in the update below this one, we have identified the cause as a technology malfunction in our network that affected multiple systems and platforms. When systems became inoperable, our crew scheduling technology was among the affected platforms. As of 2:00 p.m. CDT today, planners have canceled nearly 450 flights, primarily as a result of displaced Crews and aircraft. Simply put, if the Crews aren't in place, the planes can't fly.
We understand the enormous inconvenience our technology challenges have put on our Customers, and the colossal burden it places on our Employees. Our Employees in airports, online, and on the phone area assisting Customers in large numbers and that is taking longer than average. We recommend Customers who have flexibility look to rebook on alternate dates beyond Sunday by checking availability on Southwest.com.
Customers who are holding booked travel Wednesday the 20th through Sunday the 24th of July, who were not able to complete their trips, have two weeks from their original date of departure to rebook travel at the original fare, at no additional cost. Customers who missed their flights can resolve this issue by contacting our Social Customer Care Team on Facebook or Twitter, or visiting southwests.com/contact. Please be aware, though, that volumes are extremely high right now for those who try to call in or reach us digitally.
It's never too early to say thank you or to extend an apology; neither is it to continually apologize when a situation hasn't been fully resolved. I'm sorry. We'll continue to work to make this right.
UPDATED Thursday, July 21 at 2:00 p.m. CDT:
Earlier, we used Facebook Live to address the effects of yesterday's technology outage.
UPDATED Thursday, July 21 at 6:45 a.m. CDT:
I want to start off by once again apologizing to our Customers and reiterating that your experience throughout the past 24 hours is not the service you should expect from Southwest Airlines. Most of our systems are back online this morning following yesterday's technology outages, but recovery will take some time. We expect some cancelations and delays as we position aircraft and crews.
As of 6:30 a.m. CDT, we have canceled more than 221 flights and continue to manage the flight disruptions across our system. Our Employees are the best in the business, and they are working extremely hard to get you and your luggage to your destination. Thank you for hanging in there with us. We will have more information later regarding flexible rebooking, and we will continue to work with each and every affected Customer to make this right.