To apologize for the cascade of flight cancellation last week leaving hundreds of thousands of people stranded during peak holiday travel days, Southwest Airlines is offering “significantly affected” passengers—including this reporter—25,000 Rapid Rewards bonus points as a form of mea culpa.
This reward is equivalent to roughly $300, which can be redeemed for future Southwest plane tickets, gift cards, or merchandise, according to an email Southwest sent detailing the offer. While the airline claims that the points have “no blackout date, can be used on any available seat, and will never expire,” how many points customers need to redeem for a roundtrip flight depends on the destination, day of travel, demand, and other factors.
The offer is extended to those whose flights were canceled or delayed by more than three hours between December 24, 2022, and Jan. 2, 2023. This is provided in addition to reimbursements and refunds for flights and incidental expenses.
“Our goal is to connect our customers with what’s important in their lives. And this holiday season, while you plan for us to do that, we fall short,” reads the email, sent on behalf of Southwest CEO Robert Johnson. “For that, please accept my personal apology.”
Such as refunds and reimbursements that the airline promises customers for their canceled flights, points will not be awarded automatically. Passengers must redeem a unique code and become a Rapid Rewards member to receive it. Those who have not yet signed up for the rewards program must do so before they can claim the offer and redeem points.
Customers whose flights were canceled and were unable to rebook may still be able to request a refund directly on Southwest’s website. If you incurred expenses because of your flight delay or cancellation—say, you had to pay for extra days of a hotel, food, or other form of transportation—between Dec. 24, 2022, and Jan. 2, 2023, you can company email and submit receipts for payment.
“We have a long and proud 51-year track record of delivering on our customers’ expectations and connecting them at important moments in their lives,” said Chris Mainz, Southwest spokesman. luck. “But we’re not perfect, and when we fall short, we aim to do the right thing.”
Although many airlines were affected by winter storms in late December, Southwest’s troubles were unique and ongoing; the carrier experienced a systemwide meltdown that lasted days longer than other airlines’ disruptions.
So many flights were canceled—about 45% from December 21 to December 29, according to FlightAware—and so many passengers were affected, in fact, that the federal government is investigating what happened. In general, the airline can lose hundreds of millions of dollars. Already an affected passenger filed a proposed class action lawsuit due to the airline’s failure to refund stranded customers.
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