Southwest still has plenty of work to do to repair brand damage and win back consumer loyalty more than two weeks after a technology breakdown forced it to cancel more than 16,700 flights during the busy holiday travel season, a new poll reveals.
Some 45% of U.S. residents have a worse opinion of the airline since before the meltdown, according to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Ad Age. That dissatisfaction rises to 52% among people who have recently traveled with Southwest.
The poll was conducted from Jan. 6 to Jan. 9 among 1,050 U.S adults.
The airline has been the subject of scathing news headlines beginning on Dec. 22 when its scheduling system that assigns crews to flights could not keep up with fluctuations caused by bad winter weather. The situation escalated, with Southwest canceling 62% of its flights on Dec. 27—and things did not start getting back to normal until Dec. 29. Southwest said the disruptions led to an estimated hit of $725 million to $825 million in the fourth quarter, leading the airline to predict a loss for the period.
On Wednesday morning, Southwest had to deal with another disruption that was no fault of its own when U.S. aviation authorities had to ground flights for multiple airlines as result of a failure of an air-traffic technology used by all carriers.