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What can passengers on canceled Southwest Airlines flights do?

2021-10-11T23:32:40.983Z

Southwest Airlines canceled more than a thousand flights between the weekend and this Monday, leaving its passengers stranded. This is what they are entitled to according to the company.



Chaos after cancellation of more than 2,300 Southwest flights 3:34

(CNN) - They

canceled your flight.

Now you have to stay in a hotel and pay for dinner or see how you can rent a car.

What are you entitled to in this situation?

It's a question many frustrated Southwest Airlines customers ask themselves of the thousands of canceled flights over the weekend and Monday.

Beyond changing a passenger's reservation or refunding a canceled flight, US airlines are not required to do much for passengers, even if the next available flight is more than a day away.

"There are no real rules that allow passengers to get any kind of compensation or even overnight accommodations if they are too late," says Charlie Leocha, president and co-founder of Travelers United, a non-profit organization that advocates for consumers. .

Travelers United has sought to get the US Department of Transportation and Congress to adopt protections for air travelers similar to those in Europe, including hotel accommodations and other compensation in the event of major delays and disruptions.

The regulations of the Department of Transportation are clear: "The airlines are not obliged to provide passengers with money or any other type of compensation for costs that are not related to the cancellation of the plane ticket or to the fares directly related to it", says the Department of Transportation website.

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But airlines have their own policies, notes the Transportation Department, so it advises passengers to ask airline staff if they are going to pay for a hotel room or meals.

Southwest Airlines did not immediately respond to questions from CNN Travel about compensation for the hotel or meals, but the airline has said it is trying to get passengers to rebook.

"We are working diligently to accommodate our customers as quickly as possible, and we are grateful for their patience," the airline said in a statement.

"We are offering customers greater flexibility to explore self-service rebooking options on Southwest.com, where they can get updates on their travel status."

Leocha says that clients should ask about hotel rates for "passengers in distress."

He says airlines have deals with nearby hotels that can deliver a 30-50% discount for guests who are stranded.

These discounts are often offered to select passengers, but may be extended to other travelers.

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Cash back

According to the Department of Transportation, airlines are not required to change passenger reservations on another airline's flight with available seats, although they sometimes do and it is worth asking.

Southwest Airlines does not charge exchange fees, although fare differences often apply.

The airline has not yet responded to a query on whether the fare differences apply to outages this weekend.

When an airline cancels the flight, passengers have the right to have their ticket money refunded if they decide not to travel.

And they should insist that cash be returned to them rather than vouchers.

"If you decide not to be accommodated on a subsequent flight, you are entitled to a cash refund, even if that doesn't help you get where you need to go," says Robert Feinberg, marketing specialist for airfare website Scott's Cheap Flights.

The regulations of the Department of Transportation confirm that money can be recovered from a flight canceled by the airline, even in the case of non-refundable tickets.

But that's it.

The airline is not responsible for expenses for events such as cruises or concerts that passengers will miss due to delay or cancellation.

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"Airlines are not required to reimburse travel expenses affected by flight cancellation, such as a prepaid hotel room, cruise, vacation, concert or other tickets, or lost wages," according to the Department of Transportation. .

You may have some recourse through travel insurance.

"If you booked with a credit card, be sure to check if you are covered by a travel insurance policy that can reimburse you for additional expenses incurred, such as hotels or the cost of a new return flight," advises Feinberg.

Feinberg also suggests writing to customer service to express your disappointment.

Sometimes that can lead to a voucher being awarded for future trips.

Each airline has a transport contract that passengers accept when they buy their tickets.

They have "force majeure" clauses that limit their liability in cases where the service is not completed or is interrupted.

The "force majeure" in the Southwest Airlines contract of carriage can be any of a long list of events, such as acts of God, weather, riots, wars, labor disputes, strikes, work stoppages, air traffic control, and "the inability to obtain fuel, airport gates, labor, or landing facilities for the flight in question. "

The airline blamed this weekend's cancellations on staff shortages in Florida, bad weather and air traffic control problems, although the exact causes of the disruptions are up for debate.

Whatever the cause, the comprehensive contract of carriage seems to cover it.

southwest Airlines

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2021-10-11

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