CNN

Southwest passengers still waiting on bags should receive them in ‘days (not weeks),’ airline says

Jan 5, 2023, 4:10 PM
Hundreds of unclaimed suitcases sit near the Southwest Airlines baggage claim area at Nashville Int...
Hundreds of unclaimed suitcases sit near the Southwest Airlines baggage claim area at Nashville International Airport after the airline cancelled thousands of flights in Nashville, Tennessee, on December 27, 2022. - Temperatures were expected to moderate across the eastern and midwest US on December 27, after days of freezing weather from "the blizzard of the century" left at least 49 dead and caused Christmas travel chaos. (Photo by Seth Herald / AFP) (Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)

“This has been the worst Christmas ever, ever, ever I’ve gone through,” she told CNN recently while preparing to fly back home.

Jenkins is among the masses of passengers whose holidays Southwest disrupted when it canceled 15,700 flights over eight days starting on December 22 and allowed checked baggage to pile up nationwide.

The airline has not said how many bags remain orphaned but told CNN late Wednesday that the “majority of bags have already been processed for delivery or picked up by Customers from airport locations.”

“Our estimation for delivery of remaining bags is days (not weeks),” the company said in an emailed statement.

Southwest has apologized and offered inconvenienced travelers about $300 worth of frequent flyer credit as a “gesture of goodwill” and told them via email that it is handling luggage with “great urgency,” as it uses FedEx and even other airlines to return bags.

The effort — and warehousing of bags while manually sorting — means the piles in airports have disappeared or dwindled, making it hard for outsiders to assess how much work lies ahead at Southwest.

But industry expert Ross Feinstein called the luggage backlog Southwest faced this week — while trying to simultaneously operate its normal schedule of around 4,000 daily flights — “severe.”

The airline has limited space in the bellies of its own 737 jets, he noted. It recruited employees who normally do other jobs to handle baggage and operate call centers that field customers’ questions and contact them to figure out where a bag should be sent.

“A week and a half, two weeks is just unacceptable and customers are just frustrated trying to track down their bags,” said Feinstein, who has previously worked for American Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration.

Unlike other airlines that charge fees for most checked bags, Southwest offers every passenger two bags for free. That feature, combined with its status as boarding more domestic passengers annually than any other airline, means Southwest carries the most bags of any US carrier.

The checked bags added up to nearly 100 million in 2021 — the most recent full-year data — while Southwest mishanded bags less frequently that year than Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines, according to government data.

But Southwest does not offer baggage tracking features that the other three major US carriers do on their apps. Southwest only began tallying up the number of bags on each flight by scanning them into a computer a few years ago. Prior to that, handlers tallied bags on paper, according to a government report and employee accounts.

That has some travelers taking the tracking into their own hands — using devices like Apple’s AirTags. The AirTags can offer a fairly precise location when there are other Apple products nearby, such as an iPhone in the pocket of a baggage handler.

Feinstein said an AirTag reunited him with his oversized ski bag once. When the bag did not appear with others from the flight, his phone showed it sitting planeside — enough information to prove to airline employees they had missed it.

This week a United Airlines customer with a lost bag also used an AirTag to track her luggage, which made curious trips to local shopping areas and a McDonald’s before she was reunited with it.

Jenkins’ daughter, Toya Martin, said she would start using trackers in her luggage while still waiting for the missing bag.

Martin said Thursday she and her mother made multiple unsuccessful trips to the airport after Southwest called to say the bags — including one with the medical supplies — were ready for pickup.

Martin said this experience soured her opinion of Southwest.

“It’s like being lost — like you’re in the middle of a ocean with no, no way to get back and they’re just looking at you saying we don’t know what to tell you,” Martin told CNN.

“I don’t think I will ever use Southwest” again, she said. “I love Southwest but this has been a nightmare.”


The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

CNN

Artic weather leads to canceled flights...
Lilit Marcus, CNN

More than 1,800 flights canceled Tuesday, hundreds more on Wednesday

More than 1,800 flights were canceled and many more were delayed on Tuesday as a brutal ice storm continued to hit parts of the South and central United States, bringing a second day of transport problems.
19 hours ago
This photo provided by the Dallas Zoo shows an emperor tamarins that lives at the zoo. Two monkeys ...
Andi Babineau and Elizabeth Wolfe

After monkeys stolen and animals enclosures cut open, Dallas Zoo releases photo of suspect

For the fourth time this month, the Dallas Zoo finds tampering with their animals and their enclosures, including one dead bird.
19 hours ago
Showy highway in Texas...
Aya Elamroussi and Dakin Andone, CNN

Millions across the South and central US brace for ice storm

A winter storm bringing the triple threat of ice, sleet and snow Tuesday to parts of the South and central US has prompted officials to close roads and schools as they urge people to avoid traveling in dangerous conditions.
19 hours ago
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 07:  A general view of the skyline of downtown Dallas, Texas as the American Airl...
KELSY MITTAUER

Arrest made in sex trafficking of teen girl who disappeared at Mavs game

Nine months after a Texas girl was sex trafficked after disappearing from a Mavericks game, an arrest has been made.
2 days ago
Lisa Loring...
Toyin Owoseje and Amanda Watts, CNN

Lisa Loring, original Wednesday Addams actress, dead at 64

Lisa Loring, best known as the first actress to play Wednesday Addams in the original "The Addams Family" sitcom, has died at the age of 64.
2 days ago
In 2022, the San Antonio Zoo received more than 8,000 donations from all 50 states and over 30 diff...
Yenny Sanchez

San Antonio Zoo will let you name a cockroach after an ex and feed it to an animal

The San Antonio Zoo is offering a special Valentine's Day greeting for exes who just won't bug off.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Southwest passengers still waiting on bags should receive them in ‘days (not weeks),’ airline says