'It Will Never Happen Again': Southwest Airlines CEO Says Last Christmas' Disaster Is in the Past Over 70% of Southwest's flights were canceled before Christmas last year.

By Emily Rella

entrepreneur daily

It's nearly impossible to forget the fiasco that was Southwest Airlines' 2022 holiday season, which left thousands of passengers stranded, without luggage, and spending time sitting on the floor of an airport that should've been with family.

Just before Christmas last year, inclement weather and storms across the country caused thousands of canceled and delayed flights, which cost the company an estimated $1 billion — and customer loyalty when all was said and done.

"It will never happen again," Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan said Thursday at the Wings Club in New York City.

Bob Jordan, president and chief executive officer of Southwest Airlines Co., during an interview in New York, US, on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023 (Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Related: Southwest Sued in Class Action Over Holiday Flight Cancellations

"It was an ugly week," Jordan said of last year's holiday mishap in a separate interview on Thursday with Bloomberg. "But that week does not define Southwest Airlines."

Jordan admitted the fiasco did cause loyal Southwest customers to turn on the airline but said there was "no indication" it had caused a decline in customers using and booking the airline.

"We are ready for the winter, absolutely ready," Jordan said assuredly.

In April, Southwest was ranked the worst airline of 2023 by WalletHub, which noted that the holiday mishap (which resulted in roughly 70% of the airline's total flights being canceled just before Christmas) even caused a legal probe by the U.S. Department of Transportation and a class action lawsuit.

"We were fully staffed and prepared for the approaching holiday weekend when the severe weather swept across the continent, where Southwest is the largest carrier in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the U.S.," a representative for Southwest Airlines said in a company statement at the time. "These operational conditions forced daily changes to our flight schedule at a volume and magnitude that still has the tools our teams use to recover the airline operating at capacity."

Related: Man Emotionally Reunites With Luggage After Southwest Disaster

Southwest is coming off a bleak Q3 2023, where the airline's net income was down nearly 30% from the same time last year while noting plans to slow down capacity growth in 2024.

The airline was down just over 21% year-over-year as of Friday morning.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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