Southwest Airlines States Normal Schedules To Resume After Eight Days Of Uncertainty

Southwest Airlines released a statement on Thursday stating that they’re set up to resume normal scheduling operations on Friday. This statement comes eight days after hundreds of thousands of passengers were delayed, stranded, and left uncertain regarding their luggage and ability to travel. 

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This Thursday, an additional 2,362 flights from Southwest Airlines were canceled after eight days of passengers scrambling to cope with cancellations, delays, and other disruptions to their holiday travel plans. 

Now, Southwest Airlines has released a statement saying they’re set up to resume normal scheduling operations on Friday, hoping for minimal further disruptions coming into the New Year’s weekend. 

“We’ve set up a page at Southwest.com/traveldisruption for customers to submit refund and reimbursement requests for meals, hotel, and alternate transportation; as well as to connect customers to their baggage,” the statement said, according to CNN

“We are encouraged by the progress we’ve made to realign crew, their schedules, and our fleet. We know even our deepest apologies — to our customers, to our employees, and to all affected through this disruption — only go so far.”

The Department of Transportation has formally warned Southwest Airlines, however, that they need answers regarding why the airline’s systems allowed so much to go wrong, and insurance that it won’t happen again. The DOT also told the Airline that they will face consequences if they aren’t able to somehow compensate every stranded and inconvenienced passenger. 

Pete Buttigieg, US Transportation Secretary, wrote a letter to the Southwest CEO Bob Jordan, warning that government officials will be taking action if the airline doesn’t reimburse passengers for the costs associated with the delays, cancellations, and overall confusion. 

“It would be an unfair and deceptive practice not to fulfill this commitment to passengers. The Department will use the fullest extent of its investigative and enforcement powers to hold Southwest accountable if it fails to adhere to the promises made to reimburse passengers for costs incurred for alternate transportation,” Buttigieg wrote.

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“The airline said to me that they were going to go above and beyond what’s required of them. I’m looking to make sure they actually do that, and if they don’t, we are in a position to levy tens of thousands of dollars per violation per passenger in fines.”

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As of Thursday, only 39 flights for Friday have been canceled, according to flight tracking service, FlightAware. The airline in general has begun informing passengers that it “expects to fly a full schedule” for Friday. 

“While we have recently experienced operational challenges, we expect to resume a full schedule of flights with minimal disruptions on your day of travel,” according to an email sent to a passenger scheduled to fly with Southwest this Friday. 

Southwest’s chief commercial officer, Ryan Green, issued a video on Thursday offering his regrets surrounding the past eight days of failures from the airline. 

“My personal apology is the first step of making things right after many plans changed and experiences fell short of your expectations of us. We’re continuing to work to make this up to you, and you’ll continue to hear about that soon. But for now, we’re focused on restoring the reliability and level of customer experience we expect of ourselves, and you expect of us,” Green stated. 

Buttigieg continued his statement regarding the airline’s disruptions: “Their system really has completely melted down. I made clear that our department will be holding them accountable for their responsibilities to customers, both to get them through this situation and to make sure that this can’t happen again.”

“Those responsibilities include providing meal vouchers and hotel accommodations for passengers whose flights were disrupted “as a result of Southwest’s decisions and actions. US airlines are also required to provide cash refunds to passengers whose flights were canceled and opted not to travel, the DOT said.