If you're keeping up with the news at all this week, you've likely seen that Southwest Airlines absolutely melted down this week. There's really no nice way to frame what's happening or attempt to dampen it. Thousands of flights have been canceled, leaving thousands of people stranded, luggage lost, and lower-level employees abused by frustrated customers. It's a nightmare.

Officially, Southwest blames the cancellations on extreme weather, according to Fox Business News:

Southwest had explained on Tuesday that it was recovering from operational challenges following consecutive days of extreme winter weather and CEO Bob Jordan said the airline was doing everything possible to return to normal operation.

However, we need to examine this statement closer, and with the knowledge that this isn't happening to other airlines. The keywords here are, "operational challenges". This means that something in their business model is failing, and this means that this was likely preventable. I've seen some unsubstantiated, albeit totally believable, reports on Facebook that its a software meltdown leaving even pilots and crew stranded:

I don’t know what to say. Southwest Airlines has imploded. Their antiquated software system has completely fried. Planes are parked. Crews are stranded in the airports with the passengers, volunteering to take the passengers in the parked planes but the software won’t accept it. Phone lines are overwhelmed for both passenger and crews.

Why I am disappointed, even though I'm not currently stranded

Southwest Airlines is a Texas-based airline. Growing up, I hopped on Southwest flights every summer. Yeah, I was that kid with the obnoxiously large "I FLY SWA" button pinned to my shirt. Southwest was the only airline that had a direct flight from Lubbock to California, so I was able to visit my Grandmother every summer. Southwest literally brought my family together for me.

As a teen, I'd save up a little money and book affordable flights back and forth. Packing just what I needed to get by, I wouldn't even have to check any bags. Flying was easy and fun and it made the thousand-mile expanse between my two "homes" into minimal line standing and a short nap.

The service was always incredible. I never had a flight canceled, ever, and if it was delayed, it was only a couple of hours. There were times I even got to my destination early. It seems like a bygone era when flight travel could be breezy, even pleasurable. I truly felt that Southwest was the only airline that was still at least trying to make the experience an exciting and easy one for customers. But with this week's massive failure, it seems that flight travel is ruined for everyone, everywhere.

Does anybody want to take turns driving to California?

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