MNLA photo by Clancy O'Dessky

The weather outside is frightful across most of the country and Southwest Airlines is handing out lumps of coal disguised as canceled flights at airports throughout Southern California Tuesday.

Southwest Airlines has canceled hundreds of flights, all departing flights from Los Angeles International Airport and the Southern California region through Dec. 31, following days of widespread cancellations for the budget carrier at airports nationwide.

As of Monday evening, based on Southwest’s website, all flights departing out of major airports in Southern California were “unavailable” through Dec. 31, including flights out of LAX, John Wayne Airport and Long Beach Airport.

As of 8 p.m. Monday, more than 160 flights were canceled and more than 340 flights were delayed at LAX. During that same time frame, 106 Southwest Airlines flights were canceled and 30 Southwest Airlines flights were delayed.

The airline issued an apology to stranded holiday travelers, stating that its operational challenges stem from last week’s historic winter storm.

“With consecutive days of extreme winter weather across our network behind us, continuing challenges are impacting our customers and employees in a significant way that is unacceptable,” Southwest stated in a news release. “We are working with safety at the forefront to urgently address wide-scale disruption … And our heartfelt apologies for this are just beginning.”

On Monday alone, Southwest canceled more than 2,900 flights across the country, or about 70% of its scheduled total, according to the tracking website FlightAware.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a statement in response to Southwest’s cancellations, noting that the department will be looking into the situation.

“USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays and reports of lack of prompt customer service,” the department tweeted. “The department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.”

Southwest Airlines said it was fully staffed late last week and prepared for the approaching Christmas weekend when severe weather swept across the continent.

“We’re working with safety at the forefront to urgently address wide-scale disruption,” airline officials stated, noting that Southwest plans to operate with a reduced schedule, flying roughly one-third of its originally scheduled flights for the next several days.

“On the other side of this, we’ll work to make things right for those we’ve let down,” the airline stated.

Impacted travelers can find more information a southwest.com/traveldisruption.

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