Days after harsh winter weather wiped out air travel plans across the country, Southwest Airlines customers are still grappling with heavy cancellations.
“It clearly crossed the line between what is an out-of-control weather situation and something that is the direct responsibility of the airline,” said Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “NBC Nightly News” with Lester Holt.
More than 2,500 Southwest flights are canceled Wednesday after about 5,600 cancellations Monday and Tuesday, according to FlightAware, which tracks flight status in real time. FlightAware is already reporting more than 2,300 cancellations in the Southwest for Thursday.
“With our large fleet of aircraft and flight crew out of position in dozens of locations, and after days of trying to squeeze so much of our full schedule over the busy holiday weekend, we have reached a decision point to significantly reduce our flights to catch up,” Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said in a video Tuesday, in which he also apologized. “We’re focused on getting all the pieces back in place. safely to end this continuing struggle.”
Here’s what South West customers need to know.
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What happens if Southwest cancels my flight?
Customers whose flights are canceled can rebook or request a refund for their flights.
Additionally, all South West customers who were scheduled to travel through January 2 can rebook without paying an additional fee or fly on hold within 14 days of their original travel date between previously booked cities.
Flights can be booked on the Southwest website or by phone at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA. Calling customers should expect long wait times.
Is there a way to get refunds on Southwest?
Customers whose flights have been canceled can fill out a form on Southwest’s website to request a refund if they choose not to rebook.
The Department of Transport requires all airlines to offer refunds when a flight is canceled for any reason. The rules regarding delays are more complicated and vary widely. The DOT Dashboard for Travelers lists policies by airline.
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Can I be reimbursed for additional expenses?
Southwest customers who experience cancellations or a “significant flight delay” between Dec. 24 and Jan. 2 can submit email receipts for reimbursement.
“We will honor reasonable requests for reimbursement for meals, hotel and alternative transportation,” the airline said on its website.
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Where is my luggage?
Unclaimed bags belonging to South West customers who did not reach their checked bags have been piling up at airports across the country.
The airline has created an online form that travelers can fill out to help find their luggage.
Why is Southwest Airlines canceling flights?
Southwest said it was “full and prepared” ahead of the holiday weekend, but extreme weather conditions forced operational changes from which it struggled to recover.
After meeting with Southwest executives, Buttigieg told CNN’s “The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer” that “they’ve indicated a number of issues they’re having with systems, legacy systems to manage their schedules. and where their crews are.
“Due to the scale and scale of the disruption, our technology has been unable to align our resources,” Southwest Airlines told USA TODAY. “As a result, our crew planners are tackling the problem manually and it’s a long and tedious process that takes time and skilled resources to accomplish.”
The Southwest CEO expressed hope “to be back on track by next week.” Jordan noted that the airline’s tools work 99% of the time, “but clearly we need to double down on our already existing plans to upgrade the systems for these extreme circumstances so that we never have to deal with what’s going on again. this moment”.
Randy Barnes, president of the Transport Workers Union of America Local 555, which represents ground crews in the Southwest, cast additional blame. “If airline managers had planned better, the collapse we have witnessed in recent days could have been mitigated or avoided,” Barnes said in a statement.
How many flights has Southwest canceled?
Southwest canceled more than 10,000 flights between Monday and Thursday, according to FlightAware.
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What does Southwest do about cancellations?
Southwest is reaching out to travelers and asking other customers who aren’t scheduled to fly in the next 72 hours to delay calling to avoid jamming busy phone lines. The airline also apologizes for having “failed”, saying that “our sincere apologies for this have only just begun”.
“We always take care of our customers,” said Southwest’s CEO. “And we’re going to lean in and go above and beyond what they expect of us. Teams are working on it all: processing refunds, proactively contacting and caring for customers who face costly detours and reroutings. , as a few examples.”
Some lawmakers want more. In a joint statement, the senses. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called for “not just modified tickets, ticket refunds, and hotel, meal, and transportation reimbursements, but significant monetary compensation for disruption of their vacation plans.
What is the government doing about the ‘collapse’ of Southwest?
“What we’ve done, particularly during the issues we’ve had this year, has been to press airlines to increase their customer service commitments. They’ve done that. They’ve done that by written, and now that we have it in hand, we’re in a position to hold them accountable to a higher level than was possible last year,” Buttigieg told NBC.
Contributor: Rebecca Morin and Kathleen Wong, USA TODAY