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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg reminds Southwest Airlines CEO that thousands of stranded travelers are entitled to meal and hotel vouchers

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Pete ButtigiegTransportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

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  • The US Department of Transportation is getting involved with the Southwest Airlines delays.
  • Sec. Pete Buttigieg met with the CEO of Southwest airlines, as well as union leaders, on Tuesday.
  • The DOT reminded passengers that the airline promises to provide meal vouchers and hotels to stranded travelers.

Secretary Pete Buttigieg met with Southwest airlines CEO Bob Jordan, as well as union leaders, to reiterate the company’s “responsibilities to customers” amid travel chaos, Buttigieg told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday.

Buttigieg told CNN that the Department of Transportation would hold Southwest accountable after he said the airline had promised the department in writing last summer that they would “take care of customers” during delays and cancellations.

“Now that we have those commitments that were made to us over the summer, we’re going to be using that as a tool to hold them accountable,” Buttigieg said on CNN. “And I made that clear to Southwest leadership. Now… the CEO pledged to me that they will not only meet but they will exceed the customer service standards and commitments that they have made to us in the past and that we’re in a position to enforce.”

Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights following the holiday weekend as a result of the historic winter storm that has taken hold across the nation. On Monday, the airline canceled nearly 2,900 flights, or 70% of its total flights. 

Southwest told Insider in a statement Monday that the cancellations arose, in part, due to their scheduling tools, which some airline workers have complained is outdated.

“We are encouraging Customers to submit receipts to be considered for reimbursement. We have assisted with hotels in some situations,” the airline told Insider.

 

—TransportationGov (@USDOT) December 27, 2022

 

On Twitter, the DOT linked to the Southwest Airlines customer service plan, which states: 

  • The airline will rebook customers on the next available Southwest flight to your destination at no additional cost. Southwest also provides refunds for tickets.
  • For circumstances that are within the airline’s control, staff will provide a meal voucher upon request or will provide “reasonable” reimbursement for meals purchased.
  • For circumstances that are within the airline’s control, staff will arrange lodging upon request if available or provide reasonable reimbursement for lodging. Staff can also offer transportation vouchers or reimbursement.
  • For circumstances that are not within the airline’s control, staff can try to arrange discounts for lodging near the airport.

On Monday, USDOT called the amount of cancellations from Southwest “unacceptable” and announced that they would be investigating the cause of the delays.

“USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service,” a statement read. “The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.”

Read the original article on Business Insider
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