U.S. Transportation Department Investigating Southwest Airlines For Mass Flight Cancellations
The U.S. Transportation Department will investigate Southwest over a rash of delayed and canceled flights in light of shocking weather conditions across the country.
On Monday, Southwest canceled 2,886 flights, which accounted for 70% of scheduled flights. The USDOT calls the mass event that stalled thousands of travelers "unacceptable."
"USDOT is concerned by Southwest Airlines' disproportionate and unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays as well as the failure to properly support customers experiencing a cancellation or delay," the department said in a statement.
While Southwest is remorseful that the flights were canceled, the airline is standing firm in its belief that the extreme weather currently gripping parts of the northern U.S. made the decision inevitable. Winter storm Elliott has left over 48 people dead in Buffalo, New York. Several southern states experienced pipes bursting and flooding due to the polar storm.
Despite safety being a key reason for the cancellations, the move has left thousands of travelers stuck inside airports across the country with no clear timeframe for rescheduled flights.
In addition to the weather, staffing issues have also significantly impacted the operations slowdowns. Increased holiday travel has posed a challenge for employees who have been unable to access the company's scheduling system.
No matter the reason, USDOT is curious to understand whether or not these instances could have been avoided. The agency is also not pleased with the lack of traveler accommodations. Per Southwest Airlines' customer service plan, the airline will only provide meal or hotel vouchers for extended delays that are caused by the airline directly and not unexpected weather emergencies.
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