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Southwest Airlines will give $75 vouchers for big flight disruptions

Southwest Airlines It has launched a new compensation fund for inconvenience passengers, offering $75 vouchers to passengers whose flights are significantly delayed or canceled for a reason within the airline’s control.

The compensation fund is part of the airline $140 million settlement With the Department of Transportation, after Southwest Operational breakdown In December 2022. A combination of winter weather, holiday travel and the failure of Southwest’s scheduling systems led to nearly 17,000 flights being canceled or significantly delayed, impacting 2 million passengers. Southwest agreed to pay the government $35 million and establish a $90 million voucher fund for future fliers affected by operational errors, in addition to $600 million it paid in refunds and compensation to customers affected by the holiday disaster.

While the terms of the original agreement specified that the voucher program would begin on Tuesday, Southwest rolled out the financing on April 16. Any traveler who arrives at his final destination three or more hours after the scheduled arrival time for domestic flights or six hours for international flights can claim a $75 voucher. Funds are only available to flight fliers that experience a problem within Southwest’s control, such as a mechanical issue or aircraft replacement.

To get money, customers can Fill out the form online. The request must be submitted within one year from the date of the delayed or canceled flight. Southwest must get back to customers within 30 days, according to Southwest spokeswoman Laura Swift. The compensation fund is expected to last for three years.

The Biden administration announced last week New laws For airlines to enhance passenger protection and increase transparency in the industry. Under the new regulations, airlines must simplify the refund process for canceled flights and eliminate hidden fees by disclosing the price of baggage surcharges and changes to bookings in advance.

While announcing these rules, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also mentioned Southwest vouchers as a customer service measure that could impact other airlines.

“This is the month that these coupons start as part of the Southwest settlement, and Southwest will now lead the market in that regard, because we make them,” Buttigieg said. “It will be interesting to see what other airlines respond to, not as punishment, but with competition.”

In a statement Tuesday, Department of Transportation officials said they would be “Closely monitored” Southwest’s program requires the airline to submit an annual report documenting voucher expenditures over the next three years.

Hannah Sampson contributed to this report.

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