Southwest Airlines cancels over 1,000 flights Sunday, some in San Antonio

The airline attributed the cancellations to issues with air traffic control and disruptive weather

FILE - This July 17, 2019 file photo shows Southwest Airlines planes at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Southwest Airlines President Tom Nealon, who was once seen as a leading candidate for CEO but was passed over this year, has retired. Southwest said Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, that Nealon, 60, will still serve as an adviser focusing on environmental issues, including plans to reduce carbon emissions. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File) (Ross D. Franklin, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

If you’re flying somewhere for Columbus Day, don’t be surprised if you encounter any delays or cancellations, especially if you’re flying with Southwest Airlines.

The Dallas-based airline company canceled over 1,000 flights on Sunday alone, according to flight-tracking website, Flightaware.com. Several flights were also canceled at San Antonio International Airport, though the airline couldn’t provide a total number.

As of 1:00 p.m. CT, Southwest has canceled 1,018 flights with an additional 438 flights being delayed. This is an increase from Saturday, when the airline canceled 808 flights, according to Flightaware.

The reason? The airline says it’s due to issues with air traffic control and disruptive weather.

Data shows other airlines have also had cancelations, but not near as many as Southwest. Flightaware reported American Airlines had 63 cancellations, Spirit Airlines had 32 cancellations and United had 9 cancellations as of 1:00 p.m CT Sunday.

Due to a lack of cancellations among other airlines, this leads some to believe the rise in cancellations could be the result of a staffing shortage with air traffic control.

However, The Federal Aviation Administration said there have been no air traffic staffing shortages since Friday.

Southwest has encountered many issues with operations so far this fall season, according to a report from USA Today. The airline is still reportedly working to get operations back on track and is hiring more workers to alleviate a staffing shortage.

The airline issued this statement to KSAT in response to the cancellations:

“We experienced weather challenges in our Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, challenges that were compounded by unexpected air traffic control issues in the same region, triggering delays and prompting significant cancellations for us beginning Friday evening. We’ve continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and crews repositioned to take care of our customers.

We’re working diligently to accommodate our customers as quickly as possible, and we are grateful for their patience. We’re offering customers added flexibility to explore self-service rebooking options on Southwest.com, where they can get updates on the status of their travel. We know the frustration flight cancellations are creating for our customers and Employees and we apologize, and we again thank everyone for patience as we work first to be safe, and second to be as quick as possible in solving disrupted plans.”

We’ll bring more updates to this story as they become available.

More on KSAT:

Southwest Airlines execs talk future of business travel and San Antonio


About the Author:

Emily Martin is a digital producer trainee at KSAT. She earned a journalism degree from Texas State University, where she was news director at KTSW, the campus radio station. She has also interned at KXAN and KUT in Austin.