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US Department of Transportation to ‘examine’ Southwest cancellations

Travelers prepare to board their flights while Southwest Airline planes are parked inside Terminal 1 of the Oakland International Airport on Nov. 30, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

Southwest Airlines announced Monday it will fly only about one-third of scheduled flights over the next several days as winter weather continues to wreak havoc on holiday travel across the U.S.

The volume of cancellations prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation to say it is looking into whether Southwest could have done more to prevent them.

"USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service," the department tweeted on Monday.

Southwest did not immediately return requests for comment; however, a message on its site reads, "With consecutive days of extreme winter weather across our network behind us, continuing challenges are impacting our Customers and Employees in a significant way that is unacceptable. And our heartfelt apologies for this are just beginning."

The hashtag #southwest was trending on Twitter Monday evening, with grim travel tales out of both San Francisco International and Oakland International airports detailing general chaos as long lines, missing baggage and distressed travelers ruled the day.