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Southwest flights land, take off Wednesday from KCI

Posted at 10:55 PM, Dec 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-29 09:51:55-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In what must have been a pleasant surprise, Southwest flights arrived and departed Wednesday at Kansas City International Airport.

“The flight was great, it actually got out earlier than it was supposed to — so that was nice,” said Janice Howarah, who flew Southwest from San Diego to Kansas City.

KSHB 41 spoke with Southwest passengers who were either happy to be home with their bags or had plans on how to make that happen.

“We had an Enterprise reservation pickup at 2 (p.m.) this afternoon if they canceled our flights early,” said traveler Christine Williams, flying from Kansas City to Atlanta. “I’ve been checking every 30 minutes today to make sure they don’t cancel our flights. We also have another Enterprise reservation here at 7 p.m. if our flight doesn’t take off at 7 p.m., and we will drive the 13 hours to get home.”

Randall Smith, a former airline executive, spent 30 years in the industry. He says he’s never seen an airline with problems like Southwest.

“One of the worst I’ve ever seen, and that’s the truth,” Smith said. “There is one important distinction between Southwest and most of the other carriers, and that is their length of haul.”

Smith says Southwest flights are usually around 750 miles, while other carriers have trips around 1,500 miles. This means significantly more people are flying, increasing the possibility of errors.

“You have to wait in line for people, for bags, to take off, to be deiced, transferred, fueled, catered, that’s where all the delays are coming from that are unique to Southwest,” he said.

Adding in bad weather and poor preparation, any hiccup is magnified.

“I call it a ‘come apart' — I came apart for a moment asking myself how are we going to get home,” Williams said. “It’s year-end time for us. We produce W-2s and we do payroll, so this is not the time for me to not be in the office. This flight looks like it's going to take off, fingers are crossed we take off.”

Despite Southwest's seemingly unorganized meltdown with little relief in sight, Smith is optimistic there will be resolution.

“It will take Southwest some time, but I think they will make it good for their employees and customers, and they will recover from this,” he said.