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Southwest Airlines - Order 2023-12-11

This consent order concerns violations of consumer protection laws by Southwest Airlines Co. (Southwest) during and after the operational failures that stranded over two million passengers over the 2022 Christmas holiday and into the New Year. While Southwest has paid consumers experiencing flight disruptions over six hundred million dollars in refunds and reimbursements, the Department finds that Southwest also violated the law on numerous occasions. Specifically, the Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) has determined that Southwest failed to provide prompt or proper refunds to some of its passengers for flights the carrier cancelled or significantly changed in violation of 49 U.S.C. § 41712 and 14 CFR Part 259. The Department has also determined that Southwest failed to provide prompt flight status notifications for flight disruptions, which harmed numerous consumers in violation of 14 CFR § 259.8 and 49 U.S.C. § 41712. Additionally, the Department has determined that Southwest failed to provide adequate customer service assistance to consumers during the widespread flight irregularities in violation of 49 U.S.C. § 41712. This order directs Southwest Airlines to cease and desist from future similar violations of 49 U.S.C. § 41712, 14 CFR § 259.8, and 14 CFR Part 259 and assesses the carrier $140,000,000 in civil penalties.

Last updated: Monday, December 18, 2023