HONOLULU (KHON2) — Airports across the country continue their slow to a crawl experience as carriers cancel thousands of flights a day because of a historic winter storm on the mainland.
According to FlightAware, more than 3,000 flights were canceled in the U.S. on Tuesday, Dec. 27, with Southwest calling off more than 2,000. About 40 flights were canceled within the last day in Honolulu.
Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You
“It’s craziness. I have a daughter that I’m supposed to meet in Vegas that couldn’t get out of Vegas, so they’re driving 19 hours to get to Vegas,” Kaneohe resident Ethel Myers said.
Southwest has battled crew and airplane problems in getting flights back on track.
“Clearly we need to double down on our already existing plans to update systems for these extreme circumstances so that we never again face what’s happening right now,” Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said in a video released to media.
A local expert said that the way Southwest organizes its flight plans has made them more susceptible to a systemic collapse like the one we are seeing.
“They are a point-to-point system, right. So, the plane flies from Tampa to Houston to LA and keeps going in succession, while the major carriers United American, etc. are a hub and spoke,” UH Manoa Shidler College of Business Professor Jerry Agrusa said. “If they’re going to Tampa, Dallas, they go over to, say, LA. Everything’s back to their home. And with that, you have more materials; you have more employees,”
The winter weather continues to impact flights on the mainland. In Portland on Tuesday, strong winds blew a baggage cart into a parked Hawaiian Airlines plane, wedging it beneath the aircraft. That plane was taken out of service; and a new plane had to be brought in for passengers headed to Honolulu, resulting in a delay.
As for Southwest, the cancellations could continue throughout the week.
“Our plan for the next few days is to fly a reduced schedule and reposition our people and planes, and we’re making headway. And, we’re optimistic to be back on track before next week,” Jordan said.
Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8
Hawaii’s Department of Transportation encourages travelers to check their flight statuses before heading to the airport for trans-pacific and interisland flights.