Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

From today’s MSNBC News:

The holiday weekend turned into the Christmas nightmare for thousands of travelers when a massive storm caused extensive flight delays and cancellations. But for passengers of Southwest Airlines, the nightmare continued days after other airlines had returned to normal. On Thursday, the airline was still plagued with massive problems, canceling more than 2,300 flights, nearly 60% of the day’s scheduled flights.

Southwest’s problems went far beyond the typical weather-related flight delays and cancellations that we are all accustomed to. The massive meltdown was apparently caused by Southwest’s own mistakes, from the unique way the airline staffs flight crews to, as experts note, outdated information technology that has not changed much since the 1990s. That is a big reason why on Wednesday nearly 90% of all canceled flights were from just one airline.

This prompted several Democratic members of Congress to demand legislative action to better protect the public when flying, including Rep. Katie Porter, who tweeted that it’s time to pass her bill that “fines airlines 10x the original price for not promptly issuing a refund” within 20 days as currently mandated by federal regulations. As Porter noted, airlines are “rarely” penalized for failing to meet the 20-day refund window.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also slammed Southwest, telling NBC News that the airline’s mass delays and cancellations “clearly crossed the line from what’s an uncontrollable weather situation to something that is the airline’s direct responsibility.” Buttigieg added, “At a minimum, there needs to be cash refunds for the canceled flights, and they need to be taking care of passengers where they got stuck — with meals, with hotels compensation.” Given both the bad press and the fact that Buttigieg raised the threat of fines against Southwest, the airline jumped into action.

Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan released a video apologizing to passengers, and an airline spokesperson announced Southwest would “honor reasonable requests for reimbursement for meals, hotel, and alternate transportation”— although he did not specify a dollar amount nor a definition of “reasonable” expenses.

Read the complete story here.

By Editor