Holiday Travel Blues: Southwest Could Face Big Fines for 2022 Holiday Meltdown

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By Alexandra Skores, The Dallas Morning News.
(via TNS)

Southwest Airlines said that because of its December operational disruption, the Dallas-based airline could be subject to fines or penalties from the Department of Transportation.

The Department of Transportation told Southwest on Oct. 27 that the air carrier “failed to provide adequate customer service assistance, prompt flight status notifications and proper and prompt refunds,” leading to a potential civil penalty, according to a government filing Monday. Southwest could also face monetary damages or costs resulting from litigation by customers or shareholders, the airline reported.

In late December of last year, Southwest, unprepared for the freezing temperatures, ice and snow, was forced to cancel thousands of flights. Disruptions cascaded across its network as the company’s technology was unable to keep up with the need to reassign pilots and flight attendants. Eventually, the entire network fell apart and the company was forced to suspend almost all of its flights over several days during the critical holiday travel season. Thousands of passengers were displaced, some without their bags, for a few days to over a week.

Following the meltdown, Southwest developed a plan focused on improving winter operations, accelerating investments and cross-team collaborations. The action plan also included an internal review and assessment with a consulting firm.

Southwest is not able to estimate the range of possible loss.

This past weekend, Southwest got its first major winter test with storms in Denver, one of the carrier’s largest bases in the country. Southwest has invested in additional deicing trucks and pads in Denver and Chicago.

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©2023 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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