Are Southwest flights back on track? DC area airports see significant decrease in cancelations

Southwest Airlines is set to resume normal operations on Friday after battling intense criticism all week when thousands of flights were canceled here at home and across the country.

There have been six cancelations at BWI as of 7:30 a.m. on Friday, a far cry from the hundreds of canceled flights customers faced this week at Baltimore Washington International alone. There have been no cancelations at DCA and IAD.

On Thursday, Southwest could only get about a third of its planes in the air. Since the beginning of the onslaught of cancelations on Dec. 22, there have been 15,800 cancelations from Southwest. Other airlines had about 3% of their flights canceled. 

READ MORE: Southwest Flight Cancelations: What you may not know about rebooking flights, lost luggage

The trouble for Southwest started with the winter storm that lasted from Dec. 22 through Dec. 24. This crippled the airline due to its point-to-point model.

Other airlines have a hub-and-spoke model, meaning they have more connecting flights at hubs like Atlanta, allowing them to put more backup planes in rotation.

Southwest doesn't do this. They have more direct flights, but if one link in the chain breaks, the rest of the flights for that day with a specific airplane and crew get thrown off.

The airline also has used the same technology for scheduling flights and crews since the 1990s and is the largest carrier for 23 out of 25 of the busiest markets in the U.S.

READ MORE: Flight canceled? Can you get a refund? Here's how to find out if you're owed money

The amount of cancelations and delays has drawn the attention of Washington. U.S. Senator Marie Cantwell, who serves on the commerce committee, is now vowing that the committee will look into the situation and potentially probe Southwest.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called the situation an "operational meltdown" and says he's disappointed in Southwest's lack of proactive communication with their passengers. 

Southwest has implemented a site where customers can contact Southwest to rebook or request a refund. However, Buttigieg says if this doesn't work for you, you can reach out to the Transportation Department directly and he's prepared to levee fees on the order of tens of thousands of dollars per violation to Southwest.