Southwest Airlines was in the hot seat at a Senate

A Southwest Airlines official was grilled on Capitol Hill today. A Senate committee questioned him about the airline's poor December holiday performance. 

An operational collapse forced Southwest to cancel roughly 17,000 flights. With thousands more delays, the airline affected at least 200,000 travelers.

BYLINE: David Schaper Juana, senators from both parties requested this hearing to explain what went wrong. First, they all recounted individuals

who were stranded for days with little or no airline communication. Many holidays, funerals, and even one woman's wedding were missed, costing

her and her party tens of thousands of dollars. Senators like Nevada Democrat Jacky Rosen termed the airline a disaster.

Cancelling or delaying thousands of flights during the busiest travel season is inexcusable. They trapped many travelers, disrupting family vacations.

Andrew Watterson: I apologize to anybody affected by the disturbance. It caused customers and staff great distress, discomfort, and missed opportunities.

Watterson admitted that no apology, no matter how earnest, would suffice. He said the airline is working hard to refund cancelled flights and pay travelers

for rooms and food. The airline claims to have returned most of the luggage that had been missing for weeks. Watterson then attempted to explain the disaster.

SCHAPER: Watterson also detailed how an outdated crew scheduling system left the airline unclear of the location of several planes, pilots, and flight attendants. 

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