In an attempt to provide refunds and rebooking to customers after thousands of flights were unceremoniously canceled, Southwest Airlines launched a self-service “travel dispute” tool.

All customers who had flights booked through January 2, 2023, have the option to either rebook their within 30 days of their original flight, or request a refund with no additional fees attached.

The airline will also be accepting receipts for additional expenses incurred, such as for hotels, food, other airline tickets and rideshare. While it is not clear how the receipts will be vetted, Southwest said it will be accepting them “for consideration.”

Wednesday was the third straight day where Southwest canceled more than 70% of its scheduled flights, with the average from other airlines capped at an estimated 5%, according to U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

While many airlines canceled flights due to inclement weather across the U.S. this weekend, Southwest has yet to announce the cause of its mass cancellations.

“Southwest passengers have experienced unacceptable disruptions and customer service conditions,” Buttigieg posted in a statement to Twitter Tuesday. “I have made clear to their executives that our department will hold Southwest accountable for making things right with their customers and employees.”

Buttigieg said the Southwest CEO relayed to him the airline was experiencing issues with their systems and how staff was being managed.

Randy Barnes, President of TWU Local 555, who represent ground workers at Southwest Airlines, said the airline mishandled its workers and flight schedules this winter after working up to 18-hour days, getting sick and some getting frostbitten from the weather.

“If airline managers had planned better, the meltdown we’ve witnessed in recent days could have been lessened or averted,” Barnes said. “When you’re dealing with sub-zero temperatures, driving winds and ice storms you can’t
expect to schedule planes as if every day is a sunny day with moderate temperatures and a gentle breeze.”



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