Southwest Airlines accepting requests for meal, hotel reimbursement

Airline to honor 'reasonable requests' for reimbursement amid pressure from feds
Winter Weather Travel
Posted at 8:25 AM, Dec 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-29 22:23:05-05

Southwest Airlines said it will accept reimbursement requests from passengers impacted by the carrier's mass cancellations this week.

The airline posted a link on its website, saying it will honor "reasonable requests" for reimbursement for expenses incurred due to flight cancellations. Among the expenses listed include hotel accommodations, rental cars, other airline tickets and food.

Southwest said those who had flights canceled or significantly delayed between Dec. 24 and Jan. 2 are eligible for reimbursement. Customers can make the request on the Southwest Airlines website.

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The airline is also processing refunds on its website.

Reimbursing customers is coming amid pressure from the Department of Transportation. While last week's major winter storm started the disruptions, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has said the airline is at fault for not resuming normal operations in the days since.

The Department of Transportation said it would investigate Southwest Airlines to "examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan."

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"When you're in the situation and the airline is responsible, which is clearly the case right now, then you can get those kinds of vouchers for hotels, restaurants," Buttigieg told CNN on Tuesday. "But what I talked about with the Southwest CEO is that a passenger shouldn't have to request that. They need to be proactively offering that. He pledged that they would. And again, we'll be watching to make sure that they follow through."

Generally, airlines are not required to pay for expenses incurred due to travel disruptions, such as hotel rooms and meals. However, suppose the delay or cancellation is the airline's fault. In that case, most airlines have plans to offer to pay for expenses, such as meals and hotel rooms, according to a federal government dashboard.

FlightAware continues to show that a majority of Southwest Airlines flights are canceled for Thursday: 2,363 of all airlines, 4,302.

On Friday, Southwest so far has 39 canceled of the 1,057 total.