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Here’s how to get a refund from Southwest if your holiday flight was canceled

APTOPIX Winter Weather Travel
Rick Bowmer
Chicago traveler Shana Schifer reacts after receiving her bags that had been lost since Christmas Day at the Southwest Airlines unclaimed baggage area at Salt Lake City International Airport Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Salt Lake City. Southwest Airlines said it expects to return to normal operations Friday after slashing about two-thirds of its schedule in recent days, including canceling another 2,350 flights Thursday.

The airline is facing criticism after it canceled more than half of its flights during the holiday travel season. Now it’s asking people seeking reimbursement to go through its website.

Hundreds of thousands of travelers’ plans are up in the air as an antiquated scheduling system combined with a severe winter storm caused a historic meltdown for Southwest Airlines.

Now many of those travelers are seeking a refund.

The company says anyone seeking a refund or reimbursement should submit receipts on

Southwest says it will honor “reasonable requests for reimbursement for meals, hotel, and alternate transportation,” though the company did not clarify what constituted a “reasonable” expense.

The airline initially offered to reimburse travelers for their airfare using its travel disruption portal, but increased traffic to the page is resulting in delays.

  • Error messages: Southwest’s website disclaims that “high demand may impact the functionality of our website.”
  • Exclusions: The portal also notes that customers who at least partially flew their route or booked through a third party are excluded from using the portal. Southwest redirects these folks to a customer service line. However, high demand has impaired customers’ ability to connect with a representative by phone.
  • Availability: With thousands of people flooding the airline’s website to rebook, flights are being snatched up quickly. Southwest is asking folks with non-urgent travel plans to “avoid calling if you are not traveling within the next 72 hours.” The airline encouraged folks to instead keep refreshing the website to see if any flights become available.

The company has faced harsh criticism from passengers whose travel plans were upended.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said refunding flights isn’t enough, and the airline is now facing a federal investigation.

On Wednesday, Buttigieg tweeted:

Born in London, Morning Producer and Podcast Host Katherine Hobbs has lived across the U.S. since 2001. Prior to joining KERA, she produced three podcasts for WJCT Public Media and Florida Public Media and wrote for Jacksonville Magazine, Autism Parenting Magazine and EU Jacksonville, among others. Katherine is thrilled to return to Texas after briefly living in Austin to share the stories that impact our North Texas community. When she’s not working, Katherine can be found admiring public libraries and visiting penguin colonies around the world.