US Government acts on out of control Southwest Airlines

Written by Juergen T Steinmetz

Southwest Airlines cancelled more than 10,000 flights in the United States so far, and there is no end.

The World Tourism Network is urging lawmakers in the United States to make it mandatory for US carriers to be required to rebook passengers on all available airlines. At this time Southwest is only rebooking on its own airline, but flights are canceled.

WTN suggests that passengers stranded due to Southwest Airlines’ operational disaster rebook on another airline without delay and wait for Southwest Airlines to respond, ask for a refund, utilize travel interruption insurance, and reach out to consumer protection organizations.

Public officials, including U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Senate Commerce Committee are now getting involved.

The US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg today told CNN, he talked to Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan. Jordan said he would go beyond and above to make the situation easier for hundreds of thousands of holiday travelers in the United States.

This afternoon, SecretaryPete spoke with union leaders and the CEO of Southwest Airlines to convey the Department’s expectation that Southwest meet its obligations to passengers and workers and take steps to prevent a situation like this from happening again.

It doesn’t look like Jordan is putting the power behind his word when at the same time he told FOX News, Southwest Airlines canceled a majority of its flights across the U.S. on Tuesday in what CEO Bob Jordan warned would be “another tough day.”

Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Senate Commerce Committee, released the following statement today in the wake of Southwest Airlines’ cancellation of thousands of flights over the holiday weekend, due largely to internal failures at the company.

“Southwest Airlines is failing consumers during the most important travel week of the year. Instead of a holiday spent celebrating with family and friends, passengers are sleeping in airports or desperately trying to reach customer service agents. 

For those travelers whose holidays have been ruined, there is no real way for Southwest to make this right.

But the company can start by fairly compensating passengers whose flights were canceled, including not only rebooked tickets, ticket refunds, and hotel, meal, and transportation reimbursement but significant monetary compensation for the disruption to their holiday plans. 

Southwest is planning to issue a $428 million dividend next year the company can afford to do right by the consumers it has harmed. Southwest should focus first on its customers stranded at airports and stuck on interminable hold.

“Southwest cannot avoid compensating passengers by claiming these flight cancellations were caused by recent winter storms.

As Southwest executives have acknowledged, the mass cancellations yesterday were largely due to the failure of its own internal systems. As such, those cancellations should be categorized as ‘controllable,’ and Southwest should compensate passengers accordingly.”

In November, Senators Markey and Blumenthal, along with Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), filed a comment on the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposed rule on airline ticket refunds, urging DOT to strengthen and expeditiously finalize the proposed rule to ensure that consumers are fairly compensated when an airline cancels or significantly delays their flight.

In May, the three lawmakers wrote a letter to DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg urging the Department to use its regulatory power to take actions to protect consumers by clarifying and codifying policies requiring carriers and ticket agents to provide prompt refunds after a flight is canceled or significantly delayed, as well as clarifying the rights for consumers who are unable to travel due to government restrictions or the declaration of a public health emergency.

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