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Southwest cancels more than 100 flights from IND airport through Thursday

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Southwest Airlines on Tuesday canceled dozens of flights at Indianapolis International Airport as the company attempts to recover from the recent winter blast.

Forty-five Indianapolis flights had been canceled as of 7:40 p.m. Tuesday, and 41 were by Southwest, according to flight tracking website Flight Aware.

At IND airport, Southwest on Tuesday either delayed or canceled more than 80% of its Indianapolis schedule, and Spirit Airlines canceled four flights.

For Wednesday, Southwest has canceled 41 more flights to and from Indianapolis.

For Thursday, Southwest has canceled 31 more flights to and from Indianapolis.

Southwest stock fell nearly 6% on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, a Democrat from Indianapolis and a member of the House Transportation Committee, called the rate of cancellations “unreasonable and unacceptable” in a statement to News 8.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg talked with CNN on Tuesday about Southwest. “Their system really has completely melted down.”

“I made clear that our department will be holding them accountable for their responsibilities to customers, both to get them through this situation and to make sure that this can’t happen again,” Buttigieg added.

By 7:45 p.m., more than 3,100 Tuesday flights across the U.S. had been canceled and more than 6,100 were delayed.

Southwest Airlines carried the bulk of the mess on Tuesday, canceling more than 60% of its flights nationwide. A lot of that backlog is rolling over from Monday, as thousands of people were left stuck in lines at the airport. As a result, the airline canceled more than 80% of its flights.

If you’re heading to the airport, be sure to check your flight status first.

News 8 Medical Expert Dr. Jerome Adams took to Twitter on Tuesday to share his personal experience with Southwest.

Jay McVay, a Southwest Airlines spokesperson, says bad weather is partly to blame for the meltdown. “Obviously facing some challenges this evening with Winter Storm Elliott. That has moved on to some challenges with our flight crews.”

However, Lyn Montgomery, president and lead negotiator for Transport Workers Union Local 556, a union representative for flight attendants, put some of the blame on technology. “The phone systems that the company uses are just not working. They’re just not manned with enough manpower in order to give the scheduling changes to flight attendants,” Montgomery said.

Southwest says it expects flight changes to continue through the New Year. Southwest also says it will offer a full refund or flight credit that will not expire. There were long lines at the Indianapolis International Airport’s Southwest Airlines ticketing counter on Tuesday.

That’s little consolation to those stuck at the airport. “We’ve literally gone from terminal to terminal, and had no luck getting anywhere,” Christina Dresslar said.

“We booked a trip to Disney today through New Year’s Eve and we have no luck getting to Disney now,” Dresslar said.

Options were few for Dresslar and Josh Reel. The lack of communication from airlines upset them.

“I waited on the phone without talking to anybody for over two hours and was hung up on,” Dresslar said.

Darin Graybill said, “I can’t get ahold of anybody. I can’t change my flights. I can’t do anything on the phone or online, so figured I’d try to come down here and talk with somebody a person who can hopefully help us.”

Graybill and his family are trying to make it back home to Washington state. He says they tried on Monday to fly out of Chicago after staying near Lafayette, Indiana, with his in-laws. “We couldn’t get anywhere, couldn’t even talk to anybody to figure out what was going on and so we talked to a few individuals that kind of filled us in on their experience and we decided that we really weren’t going to get anywhere.”

Now he’s trying to get some help in Indianapolis, but a lot of flights were already booked. “The earliest was Saturday, which is very unfortunate because we have work to get back to and a lot of other things that we need to get home for,” Graybill said. “It sounds like it’s a software issue. I think that they should be a little more proactive in investing in their software and into their people and making sure that this doesn’t ever happen again. This is a real black eye on their company as a whole.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) said Monday on Twitter they will be looking into Southwest’s “unacceptable” amount of cancelations and delays.

Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said the airline failed to fix problems that caused a similar issue in October 2021. “There is a lot of frustration because this is so preventable,” Murray said. “The airline cannot connect crews to airplanes. The airline didn’t even know where the pilots were at.”

Associated Press contributed to this report