BWI Marshall Airport sees dozens of Southwest flights canceled

Dozens of Southwest flights at BWI Marshall Airport have been canceled. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)

Many travelers Monday morning are starting their trips off frustrated as dozens of flights in the D.C. area are canceled. Southwest has canceled hundreds of flights since Saturday.

In the D.C. area, BWI Marshall Airport saw the most cancellations from the Dallas, Texas-based airline.

Hundreds of people waited in multiple lines Monday morning after learning their flights had been canceled.

“Found out at the kiosk machine that the flight was canceled, so we had to wait in the 45-minute line and find out the flight was canceled, to then get another line to try and reschedule and do something else and then not go anywhere,” said one man who was trying to put his niece on a plane to Mississippi.

Another traveler, Jose, was waiting at the end of the line: “I made the check in online and everything was fine.” But when he got to the airport, he learned the flight was canceled.  

This is a continuing trend. The airline canceled more than 1,000 flights in total, or 29% of its schedule, as of 7 p.m. Sunday, according to flight tracker FlightAware. That was the highest rate by far of the major U.S. airlines.

“We’ve continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and crews repositioned to take care of our customers,” said Southwest Airlines. “With fewer frequencies between cities in our current schedule, recovering during operational challenges is more difficult and prolonged.”

But some passengers weren’t buying the excuses.

Henry H. Harteveldt, president and travel industry analyst at The Atmosphere Research Group, told The Associated Press that the cancellations are caused by numerous factors like overbooking, weather and the likelihood that some pilots who oppose Southwest’s decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations are participating in an illegal job action where they call in sick or are engaging in a “work slowdown.”

In a statement Saturday, the airline’s pilot union, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said that’s not the case.

“SWAPA is aware of operational difficulties affecting Southwest Airlines today due to a number of issues, but we can say with confidence that our pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions,” it said.

The airline also rejected the reason, saying the cancellations were due to weather and air traffic control issues.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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