Southwest Airlines Delays Affect Thousands as Rumors of Vaccine Mandate Strike Conflict with ‘Official’ Story

Saturday, Southwest Airlines blamed bad weather and air traffic control (ATC) as the reasons they have had to cancel almost 2000 flights this weekend. As of yet, it seems no reports of other airlines having to cancel have been circulating. However, speculation has been growing that many pilots are on a “sickout” in protest of Southwest’s vaccine mandate.

Southwest tweeted, “ATC issues and disruptive weather have resulted in a high volume of cancellations throughout the weekend while we work to recover our operation. We appreciate your patience as we accommodate affected Customers, and Customer Service wait times are longer than usual.”

TMZ reported on the speculation that Southwest isn’t sharing the full story with the public:

Here’s the deal … upwards of 1,800 SA flights (and counting) were straight-up canceled between Saturday and Sunday all over the country — leaving even more would-be passengers stranded or without air travel for the holiday weekend...

On Friday, Southwest’s pilot union filed legal docs seeking to halt a vaccine mandate that went into effect last week — following Biden‘s order for federal workers and/or contractors, which applies to the airline. That was left unresolved heading into the weekend, it seems.

While Southwest hasn’t spoken on a possible strike … the union itself shot down the notion they were to blame, saying … “[W]e can say with confidence that our Pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions.” Then … some major shade.

They add… “Our Pilots will continue to overcome SWA management’s poor planning, as well as any external operational challenges, and remain the most productive Pilots in the world.”

On the record, they’re denying any sort of protest — but there are reports, citing airline sources, that a massive “sickout” went down, and that ripple effects are still being felt.

Regardless of what the truth here is … it’s screwing a lot of people, and causing a lot of problems. And, IF there is merit to the sickout speculation — it could also be a bad sign of what’s to come in other industries that might try to enforce vaccines on employees.

TMZ is not alone in reporting on the speculation, News Nation anchor Leland Vittert tweeted:

“Airline sources: mass “sickout” @FAANews center in Jacksonville – caused a ripple effect and 1000+ flight cancellations mostly effecting @SouthwestAir – report “sickout” protesting #VaccineMandate

In a document shared by Reuters DC reporter David Shepardson released on October 4th, Southwest cites their contracts with the US military as the reason for their vaccination mandate. The document states the employees have until November 24th to submit their documentation. Employees who choose not to vaccinate needs to submit an accommodation form to be considered for exemption.

Thousands of people have been affected by the cancellations. One woman shared her experience at Orlando International airport. It seems her entire family slept on the floor at the airport while waiting to catch a flight since theirs had been canceled. She shared a picture of her family sleeping on the floor at the airport with no pillows or blankets.

Becky tweeted, “4 little kids sleeping on the floor of #mco because @SouthwestAir lied to us all day & night and then didn’t even have the decency to throw us a blanket. #SouthwestAirlines Will be a miracle if we leave here without #COVID19

Lenny Dykstra asked sarcastically on Twitter, “How’s everyone surviving the “weather”? #Southwest” with a picture of notification about the Southwest cancellations.

Bianca For Texas shared about her flight cancelation with a retweet from Liberty Global.

“Yep my flight got canceled in Miami!!! More flights expected to get cancelled today & tomorrow!”

Kurt Schlichter shared Christina Pushaw’s tweet about the great weather in Florida this weekend with “Clear skies”, adding “But I was told that Southwest’s cancellations are weather related…”

One Twitter user shared a picture of multiple Southwest planes with the caption, “Let’s go Brandon !”

With no other airlines highlighting cancellations it seems to be weather and ATC appears to have singularly affected Southwest Airlines. As speculation grows, will Southwest share more information or hold to their original story?