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Inside Southwest: The Weather Disruption Task Force (WDTF)

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As Hurricane Sandy began to take shape over the weekend, so did the Weather Disruption Task Force at Southwest Airlines. This is a team of our Operational Leaders that meet to discuss the impact that the storm could have on our Operation, our Customers, and our Employees. The Team meets several times a day to review current status and forecast (with our team of in-house meteorologists) what the next steps will be to get back to a full operation. As of today (Tuesday, Oct. 30) at noon CDT, the WDTF is reporting that conditions are improving across most of the region, and Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways anticipate returning to normal operations by midday Wednesday, October 31 across most of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, with the exception of airports nearest the center of the NY/NJ area: New York La Guardia (LGA), Newark Liberty International (EWR), Philadelphia International (PHL), and Long Island MacArthur (ISP). We are still evaluating damage incurred by Hurricane Sandy in those areas. Affected Customers continue to be contacted and offered options to change their travel plans. Southwest has canceled a total of nearly 1300 flights from Sunday evening through midday Wednesday. AirTran Airways has canceled a total of nearly 400 flights from Sunday evening through midday Wednesday. To provide context, Southwest Airlines was scheduled to operate more than 3200 flights across the Country each weekday this week; AirTran Airways currently has a published systemwide flight schedule of nearly 600 flights a day. Here are some behind-the-scenes photos of the morning meeting of the WDTF:
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Not impressed. Watching Delta operations in and out at Reagan National from my hotel room window after being stranded here for 2 extra days so far. SWA agents were abrupt, almost rude, as we attempted to make flight changes Friday night when other airlines were already allowing flight reschedules. Very unlke SWA. Finally allowed us to change at 1P.M. Saturday. Changed to first flight out of BW I on Monday. Then SWA didn't text us until Sunday at 3 P.M. (during the Marine Corps Marathon) to tell us that our 8:15 A.M. Monday out of BWI had been cancelled. Delta resumed operations today at Reagan. Not Southwest.
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I was VERY impressed with the way Southwest handled my "Sandy" situation. I was scheduled to fly from Atlanta to Newark on the Monday just prior to the storm and when I called to switch it to Thursday, when I "thought" it would all be over, they told me I could book any flight for no additional fare cost. And then when I delayed it two more times because of the extended emergency conditions, they continued to offer that same flexiblity! Without me asking! Unbelievable! I had two friends also stuck in Atlanta and when the events they were heading to the NY area for were canceled, Delta gave them NO leniency on moving their flights without incuring both change fees AND the addtional fare costs. That also was unbelievable!! I'm from Atlanta and was raised with Delta, but now I'm a LOYAL SOUTHWEST FAN!!!! Thank you!!