Concerns over flight cancelations not enough to stop travelers this holiday season

Airlines taking added measures to try and prevent mass cancelations during the holiday season

SAN ANTONIO – So far, so good -- that’s how a handful of people described their travel experience on the busiest travel day of the year.

Southwest Airlines canceled 2,000 flights in one weekend a month ago, and American Airlines canceled 1,800 in three days, three weeks ago. The cancelations don’t seem to be scaring travelers away, as San Antonio International Airport was bustling with travelers Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

“I just kept my fingers crossed, and it was fine. It was actually fine, just crowded but no problems,” said Olga Sosnowska, who is in town visiting family.

Caleb Guadarrama, who is retiring at home for Thanksgiving, said, “I think we just got lucky, basically coming back in one piece on one plane with no issues.”

Some travelers say they have taken added precautions due to the cancelations airlines have had to make this year. However, others are flying by on just a little faith.

“I have trip insurance, so when I book, I book the trip insurance because eventually, you would use the trip,” said Dina Geren-Bockl, who came to San Antonio to visit her daughter

Merrill Funk, who visited the city for his sister’s wedding, said, “(I) didn’t have any backup plans. Thankfully, it worked out.”

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines said they were making adjustments to meet the holiday demand. They welcomed employees back, offered incentives to work holiday shifts, hired new employees, and added more personnel to the customer relations department.

Southwest Airlines issued the following statement:

“We’ve made a few adjustments since the summer including adjusting flight schedules for November and December to enhance ontime performance. Additionally, we’ve also put an even greater emphasis in our People by:

- Hiring more than 4,500 Employees across the Southwest network

- Offering operational Employees incentives for attendance on holiday shifts to include Rapid Rewards® Points, pay opportunities, or a combination of both.

- Other Southwest Employees are volunteering in key airports during peak times to answer general questions and provide additional help.

“If things don’t go as planned, our stepped-up communication and updates to Customers will keep them informed of changes. We’ve also increased our Customer Relations resources to help accommodate around any delayed travel.”

American Airlines issued the following statement:

“To ensure we’re providing certainty for both our customers and team members, we’re doubling down on our efforts related to our schedule and staffing. On the schedule front, we’ve ensured that November and December are built to meet customer demand and that they are fully supportable by our staffing.

“On the staffing front, we are welcoming back many team members and aggressively onboarding many new hires as well. The reality is that the hiring environment has changed as a result of the pandemic, and we’re pivoting to that new normal:

• Nearly 1,800 flight attendants have returned from leaves in November and that’ll continue in December with 800 more.

• We’ll also have more than 600 new hire flight attendants join the team by the end of December.

• We’ve continued our hiring momentum across the airline and anticipate 4,000 new team members will join in the fourth quarter.”

About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.