Southwest Faces Criticism

January 4, 2023
A blue southwest plane takes off towards the sky

It is time to have a frank discussion about the root cause of the quagmire that we find ourselves in today. That root cause has a name.

Captain Tom Nekouei in a letter written on behalf of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association union. The letter, mostly outlining grievances with Southwest chairman and former CEO Gary Kelly, was released following the cancellation of 15,700 flights over the holidays.

Why It Matters: Thousands of passengers were impacted by Southwest Airlines in late December due to cancelled flights. Southwest has since apologized and announced that some of the impacted passengers would receive 25,000 frequent flyer bonus points (about $300 in value) as a "gesture of goodwill." Employees – including the pilots union – have called on more changes to prevent widespread delays and cancellations from happening in the future, with the union citing that "Lack of leadership" and outdated systems are to blame.

Worth Noting: This story remains ongoing. At least one lawsuit has been filed regarding the holiday cancellations. Additionally, United States Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told Southwest, “The Department will use the fullest extent of its investigative and enforcement powers to hold Southwest accountable if it fails to adhere to the promises made to reimburse passengers for costs incurred for alternate transportation.”

Southwest makes frequent flyer miles offer while lots of luggage remains in limbo (CNN)

Southwest pilots union writes scathing letter to airline executives after holiday travel fiasco (NBC News)

by Jenna Lee,