Southwest Airlines travelers Susan and Rick Biegler had a few days of headaches when they decided to visit family in Colorado for the holidays.
“They all had trouble, but Southwest was the worst,” Susan said. “He actually passed out at the airport this morning and they sent us to the hospital in an ambulance, had him checked and made sure everything was fine, and came back, we thought we’d be on the next flight.”
Now the couple are renting a car to return home to Las Vegas because the airline couldn’t guarantee them a flight.
“At least we know we’re going to come back, we’ve been trying for three days,” Richie Bigler told CBS News in Colorado.
Company inventories fell on Tuesday and thousands of flights were canceled. Nearly five days after the problems arose, Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan finally posted a 2-minute video on the company’s website apologizing.
“Please also hear that I’m really sorry,” Jordan said. “After a busy holiday weekend trying to fit as many of our full schedules as possible into our schedule, we have made the decision to significantly reduce our flying to catch up. We are focused on getting all the components back in place safely until the end of this crisis Rolling struggle.”
“You know, I’m proud and respectful of the efforts of Southwest Airlines employees in every way,” he continued. “The tools we use to recover from outages serve us well 99% of the time; but clearly we need to double down on our existing plans for upgrading systems to handle these edge cases so we never Will face what’s happening now.”
But can airlines bounce back from all this?
“This is definitely what you call a time to turn to Jesus,” said Darrin Duber-Smith, a professor at Michigan State University’s Denver School of Business. “I don’t know what’s going on with them, but compared to other airlines, they’re a relatively healthy airline. I think they have a better brand reputation than most airlines, so I think they’re starting off better than other airlines. Better. Maybe win their customers back.”
But Duber-Smith said that would cost Southwest Airlines, which needs to contain the damage by being honest with the public about what happened and compensating passengers.
“Southwest is going to have to fix that,” Dub-Smith said. “It’s not good for their brand and they’re going to have to give up a lot of free stuff and really apologize, apologize, apologize, apologize and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”