CHICAGO — A Louisiana man has filed a lawsuit against Southwest Airlines, accusing the airline of breach of contract when it offered him and other passengers credit in lieu of refunds for flights that were canceled during a winter storm over the holidays.
The proposed class action lawsuit, filed in New Orleans federal court on December 30 by Eric Capdeville, seeks damages for passengers on flights canceled since December 24 “and who were not provided a refund or reimbursed for expenses incurred as a result of the cancellation.”
Capdeville alleges in the lawsuit that she had tickets to fly to Portland, Oregon, from New Orleans with her daughter on December 27, but when her flight was among thousands cancelled, the airline offered her credit. Southwest was also unable to accommodate him on another flight, the lawsuit says.
“Southwest’s contract of carriage requires refunds in this situation, as well as full compensation for costs incurred and cancellations resulting from the failure of the contract of carriage,” the lawsuit states. “Due to Defendant’s cancellation of the flights, Plaintiff and all putative class members are unable to use their airline tickets through no fault of their own and do not get the benefit of their deal with Defendant.”
The lawsuit also claims that the Dallas-based airline has further breached its contract by failing to provide refunds within seven days for canceled tickets purchased with credit cards.
RELATED: Southwest Airlines Apologizes for Increase in Canceled Flights and Gives Customers Frequent Flyer Points
Southwest said in a statement that efforts are being made “to do the right thing by our customers, including processing refunds for canceled flights and reimbursing customers for expenses incurred as a result of irregular operations.” The airline launched a website to help those affected apply for returns and refunds.
The collapse at Southwest, which led to more than 15,000 flight cancellations between December 22 and 30, began with a winter storm that swept across the country. While other airlines rallied after a couple of days, Southwest continued to struggle with crews and planes stranded far from where they were supposed to be.
The situation led the US Department of Transportation to launch an investigation into what happened at the airline.
Analysts said one cause of the debacle was that Southwest employs a “point-to-point” flight operating system in which many large airlines operate on a “hub and spoke” basis, fueling shorter one-way flights. and return to larger airports. The point-to-point system has planes going from one destination to another in the same direction.
Another reason was worker burnout from mandatory overtime, as well as many calling in sick due to a combination of flu, COVID-19 and RSV infections.
RELATED: Southwest Midway: As Another Holiday Weekend Begins, Airline Appears to Resume Normal Operations
Since then, the airline has repeatedly apologized to passengers and promised to fix their problems. On Tuesday, Southwest told affected travelers it would give them 25,000 frequent flyer points, which it says are worth more than $300 worth of flights.
Southwest included the offer in a letter, another apology for the collapse, from CEO Bob Jordan.
“I know that no amount of apology can undo your experience,” Jordan wrote. He added that the airline is acting “with great urgency” to process refunds, return lost bags and handle requests for reimbursement of costs incurred by stranded travelers.
Southwest has not disclosed how many passengers were booked on the affected flights, but more than 1 million likely had a flight cancelled.
The video in the player above is from a previous report.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire – Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2023).