The president of Southwest Airlines promised to “make better” passengers hit by his company’s disastrous holiday meltdown as the company promised to resume normal service on Friday.
CEO Bob Jordan said in an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, “This affected so many people, so many customers, during the holidays.” There are few ways to apologize.”
Jordan said the passenger reimbursement “covers the traveler’s expenses, such as car rentals, hotel rooms, meals and reservations for other airline customers, which are all part of what we cover. I will become a department,” he said.
“We’re providing refunds and covering costs, and we’ll be putting more things back in after that,” he said. Nothing is more important than reuniting with your bag and processing your refund.”
The airline’s troubles began with a large, frigid winter storm, but remained in the southwest and worsened as other major airlines recovered. Nearly 15,800 Southwest Airlines flights have been canceled since December 22, causing disruption to the company’s core.
“This was an unprecedented storm for any airline,” Jordan said. “The storm had an impact, but it had an impact beyond the storm and obviously had a very different impact on the Southwest.”
Jordan said the airline will fly a full schedule of about 3,900 flights on Friday. According to flight-tracking site FlightAware, Southwest Airlines canceled 40 flights by 8 a.m. Eastern time, or about 1% of its schedule.
“I am confident that we will have a very tight operation today,” he said.
When these planes are back in the air and the piles of luggage are reduced, it’s certainly a relief for both the passengers and the company.
A senior U.S. government official wondered, to say the least, how the Southwest got to this point in the aftermath of a massive winter storm that all other major U.S. airlines were able to control days earlier. I am perplexed as to what has happened.
And they demand that the Southwest do things right.
In a statement released Thursday, Southwest Airlines said it hoped to minimize disruption over the New Year’s weekend after another bruising day in which an additional 2,362 flights were canceled.
“We are encouraged by the progress we have made to reorganize our crews, their schedules and the fleet,” it said. We sincerely apologize,” the statement said.
“We have set up a page on Southwest.com/traveldisruption for customers to submit refunds and refund requests for meals, hotels and alternate transportation.In addition to connecting customers to their luggage.”
But that hasn’t allayed questions about why the airline’s system made things so bad and demanded that it never happen again. The Department of Transportation (DOT) remains firm with Southwest.
The DOT formally warned Southwest Airlines on Thursday that it would face serious consequences if it was stranded and not justified by inconvenient passengers.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg wrote in a letter to Jordan, CEO of Southwest Airlines, that the airline will reimburse passengers for alternative transportation costs and provide meals, hotels, refunds and baggage reconsolidation. It said the authorities would take action against the airlines if they did not keep their promises to do so.
Penalties include the ability to impose fines.
“Failure to honor this promise to passengers is an unfair and deceptive practice,” wrote Mr. Buttigieg, referring specifically to another travel reimbursement.
“The agency will use its full investigative and enforcement powers to hold Southwest Airlines accountable for failure to honor its promise to reimburse passengers for costs incurred for alternative transportation.”
These fines can be substantial.
In an interview with NBC News on Thursday, Buttigieg said, “The airlines told me they were going to do more than they were asked to do.” If not, we stand to impose fines of tens of thousands of dollars per violation per passenger.”
The airline’s chief commercial officer, Ryan Green, on Thursday expressed regret over the disruption of service and promised to rebuild its abysmal customer relationships.
“After so many plans have changed and the experience has fallen short of your expectations for us, my personal apologies are the first step in getting things right,” Green said in the video.
“We continue to work to make up for this to you and you will keep hearing about it soon. I’m here.
His remark came when Buttigieg scathingly assessed the Southwest’s troubles, calling the situation a complete “meltdown.”
“We have a company here that has a lot of work to do,” he said.
Some passengers took all this in stride and expressed sympathy for Southwest.
Several people at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport spoke to CNN’s Nick Valencia on Thursday about their travel experiences in the Southwest this holiday season.
“I mean, it’s a no-brainer. This is a flight trip, and everyone is trying to go everywhere at the same time. Unfortunately, Southwest Airlines suffered the brunt of travel’s unfortunate circumstances this year.” ‘” Roderick Hister told CNN.
When asked how he felt about the lack of lines at the airport’s Southwest counters, Hister said: So, as you may know, there is an effort at work to redeem yourself. ”
Winston Williams, standing near Hister, said he would continue to fly with the airline. “I like the Southwest, which means bags are free,” Williams said.
Ask any Southwest Airlines employee about the company’s technology. You don’t get many rave reviews.
As Southwest Airlines has grown from a Texas-based low-cost carrier operating three aircraft to one of the largest US airlines, union officials representing Southwest workers say they haven’t kept up with technological change. And they say they’ve been voicing their concerns for years.
“We’ve denounced them every year since 2015,” Mike Santoro, captain and vice president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, told CNN.
They and the airline itself described an internal process that required multiple departments to manually redesign the airline’s schedule. This is a system that works “most of the time”.
If something goes wrong, Southwest software, including the crew scheduling system tools, must do much of the delicate work of rebuilding the network manually.
Elaine Chao, former Trump administration secretary of transportation, described the Southwest Airlines failure as an “unbelievable failure.”
She told CNN, “It was the perfect storm of everything going on at the company. It’s going to take a very long time to rebuild trust with consumers,” she added.
Phil Dengler, co-founder of travel advice website The Vacationer, agrees.
“It will take a long time for Southwest Airlines to regain public trust. ,” he said in an email to CNN Travel on Thursday.
“Most Americans only fly once a year and want a problem-free experience. We see air as the cheapest option,” Dengler said.
“Low prices are tempting, but this meltdown will make many travelers look for other low-cost options.”
Dengler warns to proceed with caution regarding these promised refunds.
“Southwest has said it will honor reasonable requests for reimbursement of meals, hotels and alternative transportation,” he said. , I want to avoid expensive hotels and restaurants.Use Google Hotels to find nearby hotels near the airport where you are stuck.”
It also warns about piling up large tabs.
Try searching Google for things like “free activities near me.” I doubt Southwest will reimburse tours or other paid activities, so I wouldn’t book an expensive tour that you can’t afford. ”