A Holiday Season Disaster

Thousands of flights canceled, millions of passengers stranded, and many memories never made. An unprecedented aviation disaster through one of the largest aviation companies in the world, Southwest.


Great amounts of luggage are being sorted through mere days after the Southwest Airlines disaster.

Davis Ohanian

With thousands of Americans traveling during the holiday season, it is essential for major airlines to prepare for mishaps and disasters in a multitude of ways, such as ensuring that there are a sufficient amount of employees and bolstering their computer networks. Other factors include weather, which is the root cause of thousands of canceled flights during the holiday season. Without necessary preparation, the success of Southwest airlines was completely decimated during one of the busiest times of the year. 

According to Southwest’s site, more than 70% of flights were canceled on December 26th, and another 63% were canceled on the 27th. That means that close to 6,000 flights were nullified over a span of the two busiest days of the year: the days following Christmas. 

Tens of thousands of passengers were left with their bags missing, plans ruined, and a significant amount of mental stress. However, this disaster could have been avoided if a specific system was not implemented that proved to be a tremendous barrier when disaster struck. 

Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at the Atmosphere Research Group, had this to say about the disaster. “Southwest Airlines, instead, uses a point-to-point model in which aircraft may make multiple stops along a route as they ply their way across the country,” he said. “So, when an extensive bad weather system hits, Southwest is affected in ways that other airlines are not.” 

This atypical scheduling system did not just result in the cancellation of thousands of flights, but the upheaval of American lives. No apology or speech will make up for the absolute disaster that occurred during the holiday season, so the airline has been forced to provide financial compensation at the request of Pete Buttigieg and the United States Department of Transportation. 

The company is now resorting to spending billions of dollars on rental cars, hotel rooms, and rebooking customers to essentially make up for the disaster. However, no amount of money will be able to truly fulfill Southwest’s negated obligations of providing a safe, comfortable, and efficient transportation experience for people across the Americas. 

Nevertheless, this only seems to be the beginning of what will likely be multiple internal aviation disasters over the next few decades. With weather patterns becoming more and more extreme, airlines will certainly need to drastically alter the ways in which their companies operate, as extreme weather hinders thousands of Americans a year, but resulted in an unforeseen disaster in 2022. 

Southwest flights are canceled to locations all over the country.

Internal investigations are now underway, with members of Southwest unions speaking out against the company. 

Casey Murray, the president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, believes that a multitude of factors hindering the company can all be attributed to a lack of preparation. “The fact is, we weren’t prepared. The Southwest of old is gone,” Murray said. “It’s now threats and intimidation to motivate, instead of the old Southwest with a heart.” 

This disaster has illuminated the issue of companies placing profit before people, and failing to meet their own standards. The airline industry will forever remember this event and hope that its scale is never meant again.