Hotels and Resorts
Five Epic Luxury Resorts in the Dominican Republic
Why World Tourism Day Matters
Is Travel Cash a Thing of the Past?
Tropical Beachfront Concierge King
Greater Miami & Miami Beach Specialist
Travel Suppliers With the Best Commissions for Travel Advisors
Partner With Palladium and Sell as a Specialist
Months after the massive system failure in December that left scores of travelers stranded, Southwest Airlines is revealing more details about the steps it is taking to help avoid another such incident in the future. During an exclusive interview with The Points Guy, airline executives discussed some of the pieces of that plan in detail. In particular, the airline shared that it is investing in new tools for the department that manages crew member schedules, executives told TPG.As the article published by TPG explains “during the holiday collapse, pilots and flight attendants — left stranded out of position due to delayed and canceled flights — could not reach crew scheduling for hours to be reassigned to a different flight.”
Southwest's Christmas-week catastrophe resulted in nearly 16,000 flights
being cancelled and hundreds of thousands of travelers' holiday plans thwarted. In the days and weeks after the incident, much of the blame was placed on the historic winter storm that swept much of the nation. However, subsequent reports suggested the larger problem was the airline's antiquated IT infrastructure, among other challenges.
Southwest's IT inadequacies meant that, when things went amiss,
multiple departments were left responsible for redesigning the airline's
flight schedule, as well as crew assignments, manually. This internal
process works, "the vast majority of the time," Southwest said in a
statement at the time. However, the magnitude and scale of the December disruption stressed the airline's
technology and processes beyond what it could handle.Southwest CEO Bob Jordan told TPG during the exclusive interview that the airline needed to “put in place electronic communication and acknowledgment with our crews, which is what we're working on now."
Southwest Airlines plane at the gate. (photo via Eric Bowman)
The new system will allow crew members and schedulers to communicate and coordinate changes electronically.Airline executives also told TPG that Southwest has also made improvements to its crew scheduling software that should enable it to more adequately handle the type of large-scale challenges it faced in December.There are still more improvements to be made as well, Southwest executives said. This will include adopting other new tools and procedures and hiring more staff.In particular, airline executives said they intend to hire and train more "deicing" staff who would be able to step in and address the types of weather-related challenges Southwest faced this past December. There are also plans to purchase new equipment and building infrastructure to deal with winter storms, according to TPG."Having enough deicing trucks, deicing pads, the right deicing software that provides holdover times, and in some cases, the right level of deicing personnel" is a key focus, Jordan told TPG. "That's really where we were short-staffed."
This is not the first time Southwest executives have spoken about how the airline is addressing its infrastructure challenges. In a statement issued in January, Jordan outlined details of how the airline was working to move forward and improve.
For the latest travel news, updates and deals, subscribe to the daily TravelPulse newsletter.
Mia Taylor is an award-winning journalist who has two decades of experience. Most recently she worked as a staff writer for...
the latest travel news, advice, updates, upcoming exclusive deals and more.
CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC
What to Make of JetBlue Trying Its Hand in Court
Let Windstar take your groups 180 degrees from ordinary