(CNN) — Federal officials say they are responding to “thousands” of complaints from Southwest Airlines customers after days of vacation travel collapse — including complaints that Southwest is not delivering on its promise to issue refunds.
The Department of Transportation “has sent each complaint directly to Southwest” and is now requiring the airline “to provide a substantive response to each within 60 days.”
“Since the Southwest meltdown, DOT has received thousands of consumer complaints about Southwest — including complaints about a lack of ticket refunds and refunds for services when a traveler was stranded,” the Department of Transportation said in a statement first made available to CNN.
Southwest Airlines told CNN on Tuesday that they process refund requests in about three days on average. The airline said it processes “tens of thousands” of requests each day and is complying with DOT regulations.
“Southwest intends and is making every effort to initiate refunds and refunds as we have outlined in our customer service plan – which is consistent with relevant regulations,” the airline’s statement said.
The Department of Transportation has asked Southwest to respond to passenger refund requests “within 7 business days if the passenger paid for the ticket by card, and within 20 days if the passenger paid for the ticket by cash or check” if Southwest cancels or significantly delays a flight, “Regardless of the reason.”
Southwest says it canceled more than 16,000 flights between Dec. 21 and Dec. 31, noting in a financial filing that the cascading logistical outages cost the airline between $725 million and $825 million in lost revenue, additional crew costs and passenger refunds have tasted.
This announcement comes after Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg told Southwest leaders on December 29 that the agency “will use the full extent of its investigative and enforcement powers to hold Southwest accountable if it fails to deliver on promises to reimburse passengers.” complied with”.
Top image: Southwest Airlines aircraft at Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) on December 28, 2022. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)