All Southwest Airlines flights out of San Diego were canceled late Monday afternoon as part of a widespread, nationwide flight disruption that stranded thousands of travelers at airports across the country on the day after Christmas.
The majority of all Southwest Airlines flights scheduled to arrive in San Diego, with the exception of one plane coming from Honolulu, were also canceled, according to the San Diego International Airport’s website.
Southwest Airlines blamed the widespread disruption on recent “extreme winter weather,” saying snow and cold temperatures last week forced changes to flight schedules “at a volume and magnitude” still having repercussions Monday.
As of 4 p.m., Southwest Airlines had canceled nearly 2,850 flights nationwide, or 70 percent of all its scheduled flights, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.
That included every Southwest flight scheduled to leave San Diego International Airport and all but one flight scheduled to arrive in San Diego from 4 p.m. and on, according to the airport’s website.
Including Southwest and all other airlines, there were at least 90 canceled flights and at least 51 delayed flights Monday at San Diego International Airport, representing about 42 percent of all flights on the busy travel day, according to FlightAware.
Southwest Airlines officials issued a statement Monday apologizing for the operational challenges that caused the cancellations and long delays, blaming the issues on an intense winter storm. The airline promised it was working to recover.
“With consecutive days of extreme winter weather across our network behind us, continuing challenges are impacting our customers and employees in a significant way that is unacceptable,” Southwest said in its news release. “We are working with safety at the forefront to urgently address wide-scale disruption by re-balancing the airline and repositioning crews and our fleet, ultimately to best serve all who plan to travel with us. And our heartfelt apologies for this are just beginning.”
The airline said it was fully staffed late last week and prepared for the approaching Christmas weekend when severe weather swept across the continent.
“This forced daily changes to our flight schedule at a volume and magnitude that still has the tools our teams use to recover the airline operating at capacity,” Southwest said.
The airline admitted anticipating “additional challenges with an already reduced level of flights as we approach the coming New Year’s holiday travel period, and we are working to reach out to customers whose travel plans will change with specific information and their available options.”
Southwest added its employees and crews “are showing up in every single way. We are beyond grateful for that. Our shared goal is to take care of every single customer with the hospitality and heart for which we are known. On the other side of this, we will work to make things right for those we have let down, including our employees.”
City News Service contributed to this report.