Many Southwest customers have desperately tried something—anything—that will bring them back home. But some passengers are shocked to find other airlines booking last-minute flights to their destination that can cost thousands of dollars.
United and American Airlines say they have a solution: The airlines will set price caps for travel to and from selected cities, the companies told CNN.
While Southwest was not specifically named, American suggested the price caps were intended to help the melted-down airline’s customers go home.
Price caps vary by location in areas affected by cancellations, an American Airlines spokesperson told CNN. Southwest did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
American Airlines informed customers of the price caps in a series of tweets aimed at people posting screenshots of $1,000 flights.
One traveller Posted a screenshot showing flights from San Diego to Orlando with fares from American, Delta, and United costing more than $2,000. The passenger wanted to rebook a canceled Southwest flight.
“We’re doing our part to get people where they need to be and we’re putting a cap on rates for select cities,” American tweeted.
Another tweeted at American Airlines asking for help with delayed flights and no rebooking options (adding a hashtag #southwestdebacle).
“Please join us in DMs with the booking code and we’ll be happy to look at the available options,” American replied.
United Airlines also says it is limiting fares on some routes served by Southwest Airlines.
The limit runs through Saturday and applies to many of the US and Latin American markets where Southwest also flies. United spokesman Josh Freed could not immediately specify a dollar amount for the cap.
“We continue to get people to their destinations as safely and quickly as possible during this busy holiday season and our latest effort includes limiting fares in select cities to ensure our flights are available to as many customers as possible,” Freed told CNN.
The price caps could be a welcome relief to stranded Southwest fliers across the country.
Southwest canceled 2,507 flights for Wednesday, by far the most of any airline, according to flight tracker website FlightAware. The airline canceled 2,694 flights on Tuesday and has already canceled 2,348 flights for Thursday.
To make the travel nightmare worse, Southwest has a policy of not rebooking customers on rival airlines. Southwest Airlines does not have interline agreements with other airlines that allow its agents to rebook passengers to another airline, limiting options for stranded passengers.
“Southwest is unique in the industry in that we have no codeshare partners,” a company spokesperson said. “That’s just part of our business model.”
In a video statement on Tuesday, Southwest CEO Bob Jordan spoke to frustrated customers and said, “I’m really sorry.” Jordan blamed the airline’s mass cancellations on record cold temperatures across the country, which complicated 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.”
Southwest is the largest airline in the country and the largest carrier in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the US, according to the company.
– CNN’s Kate Trafecante and Greg Wallace contributed to this report