Here’s how to get a refund from Southwest if your holiday flight was canceled
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.com.
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.
This is what @SouthwestAir does when you accept their app’s “refund” offer.— Steven Porter (@reporterporter) December 27, 2022
This isn’t a refund.
We’re spending $1,200+ to switch travel plans because of Southwest’s meltdown.
Not everyone can afford to get home while floating Southwest a loan.
cc @USDOT @SecretaryPete pic.twitter.com/gGoRGnGooS
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:
Just as we’ve used our regulatory and enforcement tools to secure over $622,000,000 in refunds to hundreds of thousands of US air passengers this year alone, USDOT will continue acting to ensure Southwest passengers get the refunds and expense reimbursements they are owed.— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) December 29, 2022