Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) started canceling flights nationwide Dec. 23, 2022, blaming the weather. Now the airline has is now being sued by passengers who said it failed to provide refunds or expense reimbursements to passengers left stranded. More than 15,000 flights were canceled over a period of about a week.
The meltdown at Dallas-based Southwest has been blamed on staffing shortages and outdated flight scheduling software. Southwest has said it would reimburse affected passengers for reasonable expenses such as last-minute hotel, rental car and dining costs, but it might take several weeks.
In an interview with ABC News (KGTVSan Diego), Kurt Ebenhoch, a former airline executive and traveler advocate, said.that these kinds of lawsuits can run into some hurdles when it comes to state courts. He went on to explain, “If there’s anything that involves interstate business; interstate travel, the state courts aren’t available to consumers . . . the only legal remedy is through a federal court.”
In a Dec. 29 letter to Southwest Chief Executive Bob Jordan, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called the disruptions “unacceptable” and said the law requires refunds when carriers cancel flights unless passengers accept rebooking.