Southwest Airlines is one of the most successful and popular low-cost airlines in the United States. It flies more than 4,000 flights a day to over 100 destinations in the country and abroad. But how safe is Southwest Airlines? Has it ever had any crashes or accidents that resulted in fatalities or serious injuries?
The answer is that Southwest Airlines has a remarkable safety record, considering the number of flights and passengers it handles every year. It has never had a fatal crash in its 50 years of operation. However, it has not been immune to some incidents and accidents that caused some damage, injuries, or emergency landings. Here are some of the most notable ones:
Southwest Airlines Flight 1380: The first and only fatality
On April 17, 2018, Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 was flying from New York–LaGuardia Airport to Dallas Love Field when one of its engines failed. A fan blade broke off and pierced the engine casing, sending debris flying into the fuselage, wing, and a cabin window. The window broke and partially sucked out a passenger, who later died from her injuries. The pilots managed to divert the plane to Philadelphia International Airport and make an emergency landing. Eight other passengers were injured, and the plane was severely damaged. This was the first and only fatality on a Southwest Airlines flight.
Southwest Airlines Flight 1248: The runway overrun
On December 8, 2005, Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 was landing at Chicago Midway International Airport in a snowstorm when it failed to stop on the runway and crashed into a street intersection. The plane hit two cars, killing a six-year-old boy in one of them. The plane’s nose gear collapsed and the fuselage was damaged. All 103 passengers and crew on board survived, but 18 of them were injured. The accident was attributed to pilot error, inadequate braking performance, and insufficient runway length.
Southwest Airlines Flight 1455: The blast fence collision
On March 5, 2000, Southwest Airlines Flight 1455 was landing at Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport (now Hollywood Burbank Airport) when it failed to stop on the runway and crashed into a metal blast fence and a gas station. The plane’s landing gear and nose cone were torn off, and the fuselage was punctured. All 142 passengers and crew on board survived, but 43 of them were injured. The accident was attributed to pilot error, excessive speed, and failure to abort the landing.
Southwest Airlines Flight 812 and Flight 2294: The fuselage cracks
On April 1, 2011, Southwest Airlines Flight 812 was flying from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to Sacramento International Airport when it suffered a rapid decompression due to a 5-foot-long tear in the fuselage. The pilots made an emergency descent and landed safely at Yuma International Airport. None of the 118 passengers and crew on board were injured, but some reported ear pain and bleeding. The accident was attributed to metal fatigue and improper maintenance.
On July 13, 2009, Southwest Airlines Flight 2294 was flying from Nashville International Airport to Baltimore–Washington International Airport when it suffered a rapid decompression due to a 14-inch-wide hole in the fuselage. The pilots made an emergency descent and landed safely at Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia. None of the 131 passengers and crew on board were injured. The accident was attributed to metal fatigue and improper maintenance.
Southwest Airlines has a high safety standard, despite the challenges it faces as a low-cost carrier. It has never had a fatal crash, and most of its incidents and accidents have resulted in minor injuries or damage. However, it has also faced some serious issues, such as engine failures, decompressions, and runway overruns. Southwest Airlines has taken steps to improve its safety measures, such as replacing or inspecting its engines, fuselages, and landing gear. Southwest Airlines remains one of the safest and most reliable airlines in the world.