Southwest cancels thousands of flights; delays impact Long Island travelers

Southwest Airlines is still scrambling to rebound after more than a thousand flights were canceled over the weekend.
The company blamed the woes on air traffic control problems, disruptive weather and staffing issues in Florida.
The airline canceled more than 1,000 flights, or 28% of its schedule, as of 5 p.m. Sunday, according to flight tracker FlightAware and additional flights were canceled or delayed Monday.
Southwest said that it was working diligently to reset operations and is allowing customers to rebook themselves on their website.
At Long Island's MacArthur Airport, passengers were frustrated after being stranded because of the canceled flights or delays.
A few passengers tell News 12 they spent part of their holiday weekend on the phone trying to get flights. Some ended up at their gate only to find out about significant delays.
“I was going to Ft. Lauderdale and foolishly I didn’t check my emails before I got here because I knew there was a problem, but here I am,” says Deb O’Gara, who was vacationing on Long Island. “I checked in, they let me through security, and I didn’t find out till I got to the gate.”
The FAA says issues related to traffic control or staffing only happened for a few hours Friday night and continued scheduling challenges for some airlines were because of "aircraft and crews being out of place."
The cancellations come shortly after the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association asked a court to temporarily block the company from carrying out federally mandated coronavirus vaccinations. The airline announced on Oct. 4 that all employees would need to be fully vaccinated, or they would lose their jobs.
There has also been speculation about a pilot walkout due to the vaccine requirement, But the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association says that's not the case.
The cancellations mark the highest rate by far of the major U.S. airlines.
The pilot’s union president Casey Murray says a lack of IT support and scheduling failures are to blame for the cancellations.
“Until the company corrects some of these issues with how they schedule and reroute pilots and flight attendants then we are going to continue to see the same issue next week and over the holidays and that’s what we want to avoid,” Murray says.
The cancellations mark the highest rate by far of the major U.S. airlines.
AP wire services contributed to this report.