Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg slammed Southwest for thousands of flights it recently canceled and outlined four priorities he has for the airline in a letter to CEO Bob Jordan on Thursday.
Buttigieg called the volume of flight disruptions experienced by Southwest Airlines customers over the Christmas weekend and this week “unacceptable”, saying he believed the weather was not the only reason for the delays. and cancellations.
He also pointed to issues amid the disruption, including customers in the South West who “missed time with loved ones over the holidays” and those who were separated from their checked bags for long periods of time.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy got the letter.
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES PILOTS ASSOCIATION ON CANCELLATIONS: AIRLINE ‘WAS NOT PREPARED’
A winter storm that affected large parts of the country prompted Southwest and other major U.S. airlines to delay or cancel flights as many people traveled for the Christmas vacation, Buttigieg noted in the letter.
Southwest, he suggested, has taken longer than other airlines to return to normal operations, which the Dallas-based carrier expects will happen on Friday.
Jordan said in a video on Tuesday that the airline’s “very complex” network had been torn apart by the storm, with planes and crew “in dozens of places” out of position, FOX previously reported. Business.
Southwest had canceled more than 2,300 US flights Thursday and canceled more than 2,500 Wednesday, according to FlightAware.
“No amount of financial compensation can fully compensate passengers who have missed times with family that they can never get back – Christmas, birthdays, weddings and other special events,” Buttigieg wrote in the letter to Southwest’s CEO. “That’s why it’s so important for Southwest to begin by reimbursing passengers for these costs which can be measured in dollars to cents.”
BUTTIGIEG SAYS SOUTHWEST MUST COMPENSATE CUSTOMERS AFTER ‘SYSTEM FAILURE’
The four priorities Buttigieg set out for the airline: “Getting stranded passengers to their destinations safely and quickly; providing or reimbursing passengers for meals, hotels, and ground transportation to or from hotels; promptly reimbursing affected passengers for their canceled tickets if the passenger does not accept alternative offers such as rebooking; and ensuring that passengers are promptly reunited with their baggage.”
Buttigieg promised that the Department of Transportation would take steps to hold Southwest accountable to its commitments and obligations in these four areas if it fails to meet them.
In response to a request for comment, Southwest directed FOX Business to the update released earlier Thursday about returning to normal operations “with minimal disruption” on Friday.
SOUTH WEST EXPECTS OPERATIONS TO RETURN TO NORMAL FRIDAY
“With another holiday weekend full of important connections for our valued customers and employees, we look forward to returning to a state of normalcy,” the airline said. “We know that even our deepest apologies – to our customers, our employees and all those affected by their disruption – go no further.”
Southwest said it has created a webpage for refund and refund requests, baggage tracking, and rebooking. Customers whose flights are canceled between December 24 and January 2 can “request a refund of [their] unused ticket to the original form of payment.”
Southwest passengers with a flight cancellation or long delay during this period can also “submit receipts” for other related expenses.
The company “will honor reasonable requests for reimbursement for meals, hotel, and alternate transportation,” according to the page.
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The airline said in its update Thursday that it has “a lot of work ahead of us, including investing in new solutions to manage large-scale disruptions.”