The United States Senate Commerce Committee announced it would hold hearings related to Southwest Airlines’ delays and cancellations during the winter holiday travel period.
According to U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, the Commerce Committee spoke with Southwest CEO Bob Jordan and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about the issue and “will be holding hearings for Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization to examine how to strengthen consumer protections and airline operations.”
Cantwell said the over 16,000 flight cancellations during the busy travel period left impacted customers “rightfully dissatisfied” and they “need refunds and reimbursements for their expenses.”
“The problems at Southwest Airlines over the last several days go beyond weather,” Cantwell said. “The Committee will be looking into the causes of these disruptions and its impact to consumers.”
“Many airlines fail to adequately communicate with consumers during flight cancellations,” Cantwell continued. “Consumers deserve strong protections, including an updated consumer refund rule.”
As a result of the flight disruptions, Southwest said it would reach out to every “significantly impacted” and “offer a tailored gesture of goodwill and another heartfelt apology.” The airline’s CEO Bob Jordan sent another letter to customers on Tuesday to apologize and gift 25,000 Rapid Rewards points for the inconvenience.
In addition to honoring reasonable requests for reimbursement for meals, hotel accommodations, and alternate transportation, the carrier said it planned to improve the processes and systems that caused the travel disruptions during the holidays.
Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Transportation Department was considering fines against Southwest if it did not appropriately reimburse customers for their losses.
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