Over 1,600 Flights Canceled in Winter Storm, Southwest Airlines Tops List Again

By Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.
January 31, 2023Updated: January 31, 2023

Masses of flights in the United States have been canceled or delayed on Jan. 31 owing to a winter storm, with just four airlines making up the majority of the cancellations.

There have been 1,623 cancellations as of 4:01 a.m. ET on Jan. 31, according to data from FlightAware.

Southwest Airlines saw the highest number of cancellations at 319, accounting for close to 20 percent of total cancellations. This was followed by American Airlines with 308 cancellations, China Eastern with 138 cancellations, and Lion Air canceling 111 flights.

Combined, the top four airlines made up 54 percent of total cancellations. There were 6,199 flight delays registered.

In terms of airport of origin, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Texas topped the list with 288 cancellations, followed by Austin-Bergstrom International, Texas, with 77 cancellations, and the Dallas Love Field Airport, Texas, with 67 cancellations. The three airports also ranked in the top three when it came to destination airport cancellations.

The flight cancellations come as a winter storm rages through the middle part of the country. On Jan. 30, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a winter storm warning for a large part of Texas, which is expected to be in effect until 12 p.m. CT on Wednesday.

“Significant impacts to travel will continue through at least early Wednesday. Elevated surfaces such as bridges and overpasses will likely be the first to become icy, slick, and hazardous as temperatures hover around or below freezing,” NWS said.

The latest set of cancellations follows December’s debacle when Southwest canceled more than 16,000 flights in the last ten days of the month.

Airline Waivers

In expectation of the winter weather, several airlines are offering waivers to customers. Travelers with Southwest can rebook flights without paying any fare difference if the new flights are booked within 14 days of the original travel date.

The waiver applies to customers who travel between Jan. 30 and Feb. 1. It is being offered in certain cities in Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.

American Airlines customers can get their change fees waived if they are scheduled to fly through the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport between Jan. 29 and Feb. 2. To benefit from the offer, travelers must rebook flights by Feb. 2 and travel by Feb. 8.

People using Delta Airlines who are traveling on Tuesday or Wednesday are eligible to rebook flights without paying a change fee or fare difference if applicable. The rescheduled flights should be scheduled for travel on or before Feb. 4.

United Airlines is offering customers traveling between Jan. 30 and Feb. 2 the ability to rebook flights through Feb. 5 without paying fare difference or change fees.

Southwest Woes

By becoming the airline with the highest number of flight cancellations on Jan. 31, Southwest is continuing its poor flight performance from last month. In the last 10 days of December last year, Southwest had canceled 16,700 flights after its crew-scheduling system became overloaded and failed to handle staffing changes.

On Jan. 26, the company reported a $200 million loss for the fourth quarter due to December’s operational meltdown. Southwest put the cost resulting from the negative impact of the delays at around $800 million.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has initiated an investigation into Southwest’s cancellations, which left millions of passengers stranded.

The DOT “will leverage the full extent of its investigative and enforcement power to ensure consumers are protected and this process will continue to evolve as the department learns more,” it said in a statement.

The department is also reviewing whether “Southwest executives engaged in unrealistic scheduling of flights, which under federal law is considered an unfair and deceptive practice.”

The agency has forwarded thousands of customer complaints to Southwest and warned that if the airline fails to adequately reimburse customers, it will take strict action.