Southwest Airlines Gets Planes Back in Service After Winter Storm

The nation's airlines are resuming normal operations after the massive East Coast winter storm, but it may be a while before everyone gets where they need to be.

"Passengers are more of the issue, because there's no place to put them," said Farecompare.com's Rick Seaney.

"They can figure out how to get crew back and forth," added Seaney. "It'll take less time than it will take to get literally hundreds of thousands of passengers back to where they need to be in some cases."

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines alone pre-canceled more than 2,000 flights because of the storm, which is about 10 percent of the airline's entire schedule.

"Our pre-cancellation allowed us to find a best start-up point," said Steve West, senior director of bridge operations in Southwest's Network Operations Control.

"So we had to re-position or find parking spots for about 100 or 110 airplanes that we had that are normally in those locations, so we had to find that around the Southwest network," said West.

Dispatchers and others in the NOC used a sophisticated software program called "The Baker" to pre-cancel flights ahead of the storm.

"It allows us to basically shut down in a very orderly manner, but allows us to restart the network as we did this morning without really much impact to anyone outside of the folks that were in those locations," said West.

Fort Worth-based American Airlines is also resuming normal operations, and is now focused on re-booking passengers who could not fly during the storm.

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