A total breakdown: Flying during the airline system meltdown

According to the Newsroom, the holidays are one of the busiest times to travel, with over 113 million people traveling in America.

flying during holidays
An airline breakdown, specifically with Southwest Airlines, caused thousands of passengers to be delayed during the holidays this year. (Getty Images)

Out of those 113 million Americans who travel during the holiday, 7.2 million Americans will fly to their destinations, according to AAA Newsroom. 

But, during this Christmas and New Year season, many flights were canceled, leaving thousands stranded and without luggage. The airline that experienced this the most was Southwest airlines.

First, there were widespread flight cancellations and delays due to bad winter storms that raged across multiple states, not allowing airlines to take off and land. But, Southwest took longer to get customers to their desired destinations.

Southwest airline’s meltdown was said to have been caused by “outdated computer systems,” said NPR, which made it more challenging to get the airline in order again after the storms.

Fortunately, during this holiday season, I was flying American, which, even though better than Southwest, still acquired some complications.

My first flight from San Diego to Dallas was almost canceled because they were missing a flight attendant. Fortunately, a flight attendant was found, and the flight took off an hour late. 

But, because of the flight’s long delay, my connecting flight from Dallas to Memphis was almost missed. I had just arrived at the gate right before they gave the tickets away to other passengers on standby.

There were many on the first flight from San Diego to Dallas who had already had their flight changed multiple times, and the threat of the flight being canceled because of a missing crew member would have left them in a hard position. 

The stress of having to make this one flight was not only apparent on some faces, but even frustration was vocally noted by fellow travelers nearby.

A missing crew member was not a single incident experienced during this trip. The same happened when flying back to San Diego from Dallas. That flight was missing a crew member, which delayed boarding, fortunately, this time, by a couple of minutes and not over an hour.

Traveling during the back end of the 2022 holiday season was not stressful for me, but the possibility of being stranded by a canceled flight hung over many.