CHICAGO (NewsNation) — Southwest Airlines said it plans to return to normal operations Friday after more than 15,000 flight cancellations over the past week.
The airline acknowledged that it has inadequate and outdated technology that can leave flight crews out of position when bad weather strikes.
By 5 a.m. CT on Friday, Southwest had only canceled 39 flights and delayed 65, according to FlightAware. That number dramatically decreased from the thousands of flights canceled and delayed on Thursday and earlier this week.
The airline vowed to make things right on Thursday, calling in workers from across the company to come in and help with customer service and crew work.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent a letter Thursday to Southwest CEO Robert Jordan, saying what happened was unacceptable.
“No amount of financial compensation can fully make up for passengers who missed moments with their families that they can never get back — Christmas, birthdays, weddings and other special events,” Buttigieg said.
Message From Secretary Buttigieg to Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan_12.29.22 by NewsNation Digital on Scribd
In his letter, he faulted company leadership for the operations meltdown that resulted in more than 60% of flights being canceled for several consecutive days this week, also saying that the frontline employees were not to blame for the mistakes at the leadership level.
Buttigieg said that federal regulation requires Southwest to reimburse customers up to $3,800 for lost luggage.
But NewsNation has discovered that some lost items are priceless.
One woman told NewsNation that she was trying to fly her mother’s ashes to Japan as her final resting place, but they have since been lost in a checked bag.
“I just want closure. I don’t want her sitting in a storage hub somewhere or sitting out in the open around all the chaos,” Ashley Goodman said.
While the winter weather impacted operations at most U.S. airlines, Southwest was the only one that struggled to recover.