Unsupported ‘sickout’ claims take flight amid Southwest woes

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Southwest passengers wait to check in at Miami International Airport, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, in Miami. Southwest Airlines appears to be fixing problems that caused the cancellation of nearly 2,400 flights over the previous three days. By midday Tuesday, Southwest had canceled fewer than 100 flights, although more than 400 others were running late. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

By DAVID KOENIG and ALI SWENSON

DALLAS (AP) — When Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights over the weekend, unsupported claims blaming vaccine mandates began taking off. The airline cited bad weather and air traffic control issues. But Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, as well as other Conservative politicians and pundits, alleged the flight disruptions resulted from pilots and air traffic controllers walking off their jobs or calling in sick to protest federal vaccination requirements. The airline, its pilots’ union and the Federal Aviation Administration denied that. Still, they haven’t provided evidence to back up their explanations for why nearly 2,400 flights were canceled from Saturday through Monday.

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