Story at a glance

  • Southwest canceled more than 2,000 flights over the weekend, leaving travelers stranded across the nation.
  • Some people speculated that the string of cancellations was somehow related to pilots or air traffic controllers protesting the recent vaccine mandate.
  • Southwest announced earlier this month it will require all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8 or face losing their jobs.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says the recent wave of flight cancellations that hit Southwest Airlines over the past several days doesn’t appear to be related to the airline’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees. 

“To be clear: None of the information from Southwest, its pilots union, or the FAA indicates that this weekend’s cancellations were related to vaccine mandates,” the FAA tweeted Monday evening

Southwest canceled more than 2,000 flights over the weekend, leaving travelers stranded across the nation. Some had speculated that the string of cancellations was somehow related to pilots or air traffic controllers protesting the recent vaccine mandate. 


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Southwest announced earlier this month it will require all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8 or face losing their jobs. The cancellations started after the airline's pilots asked a court to block the mandate. 

But the airline pushed back against the speculation of protests, saying on Saturday that the cancellations were the result of air traffic control issues and disruptive weather. 

The CEO of Southwest Airlines on Tuesday emphasized that point Tuesday

“There’s just no evidence of that,” CEO Gary Kelly said during an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“Our people are working very hard. I’m very proud of them, especially when we get into a difficult situation like this, they’re also delayed,” he said. “They’re also ending up in places they didn’t expect...our people are doing a phenomenal job.”

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association also asserted the large volume of cancellations were not related to any COVID-19 vaccine protest. 


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Published on Oct 12, 2021