Southwest Airlines’ competitors are cutting prices to help stranded passengers – The Guardian US

Various Southwest airlinesCompetitors will place price caps on trips to help the thousands of passengers stranded this week by the budget airline’s massive flight cancellations. This news comes as the controversial airline said it planned to run a third of its schedule on Thursday, December 29, but then “return to normal operation with minimal disruptions on Friday” December 30.

US airlines and United will introduce a cap on air fares between certain cities, according to CNN. Delta has introduced “walk-up fare caps” in US domestic markets,” a spokesperson for the airline said said Axios.

Alaska Airlines, which told Axios it already had price caps, will also lower fares in certain cities. Frontier Airlines has reportedly said it has capped its top fares to “pre-disruption levels.” Spirit, meanwhile, waved “change changes or fare differential” between dozens of cities through Jan. 3, the news outlet said.

Southwest canceled 2,357 flights on Thursday, far dwarfing data from other airlines Flightaware.com indicates. On Wednesday, Southwest cancellations reached 2,510. Federal authorities said they would investigate the transit meltdown.

Southwest’s descent into logistical chaos began on Thursday, December 22. While many airlines saw cancellations due to a historic winter storm that created blizzard-like conditions across much of the U.S., Southwest canceled numerous flights in areas like Southern California that weren’t reeling from inclement weather.

The cancellations left thousands of fliers over the holiday weekend and this week, with no clear path to return home. There were numerous reports of hours-long queues, days-long delays, overcrowded baggage claims, and tearful Southwest agents who argued with irate customers.

Southwest’s rebooking policy worsened the plight of the company’s customers. According to CNN, the airline does not rebook passengers with competing airlines.

Since Southwest has no agreements with other airlines that allow rebooking to rival airlines, this limits customers’ options. “Southwest is unique in the industry in that we don’t have any codeshare partners,” a Southwest spokesperson told CNN. “That’s just part of our business model.”

“I’m really sorry,” Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said. said in a video on Tuesday. He blamed the cancellations on cold temperatures in the US and claimed they affected flight paths. “[A]After spending days trying to get as much of our full schedule as possible over the busy holiday weekend, we reached a decision point to significantly reduce our catch-up.”

Asked to comment on its rivals’ initiatives, Southwest told the Guardian in an email this morning: “We cannot comment on other airlines.”

“We will continue to operate on a reduced schedule by flying about a third of our schedule through Thursday from now on. We have no updates or adjustments regarding Friday’s schedule,” the company said. “Our teams continue to reunite customers with their bags.”

Southwest said it was providing additional resources to help customers in the form of web pages locate luggage and information on where to contact Southwest rebook or request a refund.

The airline said later on Thursday that it thought it could “go back to normal operation” on Friday after running a third off its schedule for another day.

The US Secretary of Transportation, Peter Buttigieg, has said the federal transportation agency would investigate Southwest’s mass cancellations and determine whether it was meeting its legal obligations to affected customers. Buttigieg said Southwest should at least pay cash refunds for canceled flights, as well as passengers’ accommodation and food costs.

“While we all understand that you can’t control the weather, this has clearly crossed the line from what constitutes an uncontrollable weather situation to something that is the direct responsibility of the airline,” Buttigieg recently told NBC Nightly News.

The chair of the US Senate Commerce Committee, Maria Cantwell, also promised to conduct a study. So have two of Cantwell’s fellow Democratic senators and trade committee members demanded that Southwest is giving “significant” compensation to stranded customers, insisting the carrier is able, if its plans to pay $428 million in dividends in January are any indication.

As the Southwest pandemonium caused widespread misery, some of the trapped passengers managed to find a way home together. Some unfortunate travelers – who were strangers to each other – joined road trips instead of waiting for the airline.

Bridget Schuster, one of these road trippers, went on TikTok and documented her journey from Florida to Ohio with three other passengers, all strangers at first.

“No serial killer vibes so far,” Schuster joked.

Associated Press contributed reporting

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