Southwest Airlines canceled hundreds of flights on Monday (October 11), following a weekend of significant disruptions. According to FlightAware, nearly 350 flights were canceled, and an additional 271 were delayed.
The airline blamed the cancelations and delays on multiple factors, including bad weather, air traffic control problems, and limited staffing. It said that it is working hard to get things back to normal but admitted the process is "more difficult and prolonged" because of staffing shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We've continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and Crews repositioned to take care of our Customers. And we're working diligently to accommodate our Customers as quickly as possible, and we are grateful for their patience. We're offering Customers added flexibility to explore self-service rebooking options on Southwest.com, where they can get updates on the status of their travel," Southwest said in a statement.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz suggested that the cancelations and delays were caused by Southwest's new policy that requires all employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
"Joe Biden's illegal vaccine mandate a work!" Cruz tweeted. "Suddenly, we're short on pilots & air traffic controllers."
While the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association has filed a lawsuit to block the vaccine mandate, they said that "we can say with confidence that our Pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions."