The Real Grinch Of Christmas: Southwest Airlines


Photo Creds to AP Images. Travelers queue up to check in at the Southwest Airlines counter in Denver International Airport on Dec. 23, 2022.

Maggie Terry, Staff writer

The holidays are always seen as a time where people spend it with the ones they love. But this year, some weren’t able to get that opportunity due to Southwest Airlines.

Over the winter break, thousands of Southwest flights were canceled, leaving travelers stranded in airports without any answers.

On Tuesday, Dec. 20, Southwest canceled over 70% of their flights due to the winter weather. That same day, Delta Airlines canceled 9% of their flights and United canceled 5%.

So, what happened?

In a statement given by Southwest, they owned up to their mistakes and called their own performance “unacceptable”.

To give back to the people that were affected by this meltdown, Southwest is offering 25,000 Frequent Flyer points. These points can add up to $300.

Do these points make up for the hurt caused by the mistakes made?

“I think that the part that was the worst for most of us that were affected was the loss of not being able to celebrate the holidays with our loved ones,” senior Ella Heddinghaus said. 

Heddinghaus planned to spend her Christmas morning flying to Florida with her family so she could spend time with her grandma. Instead, Heddinghaus and her family spent their Christmas Day sitting inside Lambert Airport, watching as her plane continued to get delayed.

Heddinghaus was at the airport on Christmas Day from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m., sitting at a Mexican restaurant with her family and trying her hardest to not be upset that this is how she is spending her day.

As the Heddinghaus family waited, they watched as their plane got delayed due to shortage of crew workers. The pilot of the flight tried his best to assure the passengers that he would get them to Florida, but as the hours went by, people lost hope. 

After sitting in the airport for 14 hours, Heddinghaus, her sister, and her mom decided to go home. Her dad waited another two hours until the flight was fully canceled. 

The family decided to go to the one place that flights were not getting canceled, Chicago. 

The mistake made by Southwest hurt many other families, including senior Grace Ramsey.

“Being heartbroken probably sounds like some first world problem B.S. but it’s the closest to the truth,” Ramsey said.

The one thing that kept Ramsey motivated to push through finals, college applications, and finishing her first semester of senior year was being able to go back to her “happy place”.

Ramsey and her mom planned a trip to New York City for Dec. 26 to see ten Broadway shows that she has been wanting to see before they closed. While they were on their way to the airport at 4 a.m. Ramsey’s mom checked the flight status just to realize her flight was canceled. 

They tried to come up with a solution to be able to make their trip, but after standing in line for two hours, they decided to go home. The family was able to go the following week, but couldn’t see as many shows as they liked. 

Some families weren’t as lucky. 

Sophomore Claire Jones had the same flight as Ramsey to go to New York City. But unlike Ramsey, after being on the phone with Southwest for five hours, Jones’ family couldn’t find another flight to NYC. 

“It was a little upsetting but my stepmom was the most upset because we had family up there and haven’t seen them in four years,” Jones said. 

Southwest Airlines believes that the meltdown cost the airline around $800 million, before taxes. In the last 11 days of 2022, there were over 16,700 Southwest flights canceled. 

As well as money, Southwest has lost thousands of people’s trust.

“I don’t think we will fully write off Southwest but it will be hard to trust them for any important trips in the future,” Heddinghaus said.