U.S. will examine Southwest Airlines cancellations and calls for ‘unacceptable behavior’

The U.S. Transportation Department said Monday that it will examine the many Southwest Airlines flights (LUV.N), which were canceled or delayed in recent days. It called them “unacceptable”

According to FlightAware, Southwest canceled 2,886 flights Monday (or 70%) after it had canceled 48% of flights Sunday. The airline has already canceled 60% of the flights it planned for Tuesday, which is more than 2400.

The department stated that it was concerned about Southwest Airlines’ “disproportionately unacceptable” rate of cancellations, delays and failure to support customers who have suffered cancellations or delays.

The company stated that it will “closely inspect whether cancellations are controllable and whether Southwest is adhering to its customer service plan along with all relevant DOT rules.”

Southwest Airlines delayed 48% and 16% of their Sunday flights.

Southwest did not respond to the USDOT’s statement late Monday, but it pointed out a previous statement that offered a “heartfelt apology” and stated, “With consecutive days of severe winter weather across our network now behind us, ongoing challenges are impacting customers and employees significantly in a way that is unacceptable.”

According to the airline, it is working to “urgently address widespread disruption by rebalancing airline and repositioning crews. Our fleet ultimately will best serve all those who travel with us.”

Other large U.S. airlines were affected by significant cancellations, but not at the same rate as Southwest. They are now mostly recovering.

USDOT pointed Monday to Southwest Airlines’ customer service plan. It noted that Southwest Airlines will offer hotel or meal vouchers in the event of extended delays due to airline-related issues, but not weather-related issues.

Major U.S. airlines, including Southwest, informed USDOT in August that they will provide food for passengers delayed for three hours or more and offer hotel accommodations for passengers who are stranded due to issues beyond their control.

While many airlines offered hotels or vouchers for delayed flights, they did not always make clear all obligations in their customer service plans.


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