Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Southwest
Southwest Offers 25,000 Reward Points To Passengers Impacted By Hot Mess Holiday Cancellations
Southwest Airlines is taking steps to restore its otherwise good reputation after a chaotic holiday season of cancellations. Some customers affected by the Christmas week chaos are being offered 25,000 bonus rewards points. Exact redemption values vary depending on flight routes and dates, however, the points equate to approximately $300.
The offer serves as a gesture of goodwill as the airline continues sorting out ongoing baggage issues and refunds.
Southwest issued Rapid Rewards points to customers whose flights were canceled or significantly delayed between Dec. 24 to Jan. 2 and who did not elect to rebook or travel, Southwest shared with Travel + Leisure. The airline also says the offer “is available for every passenger on the reservation, up to 9 passengers.”
The Rapid Rewards points are said to have no blackout dates and never expire. However, the special codes given to affected customers must be claimed by March 31, 2023, when it expires.
“Over the recent holiday travel week, we disrupted many of our Customers’ travel and holiday plans, and for that, we are truly sorry,” Southwest said in a statement shared with T+L. “As we embark on the journey to rebuild our Customers’ faith, loyalty, and trust, we know we have much work to do. It’s a passionate pursuit, and our Southwest Family has never been more committed to the all-important imperative of serving our Customers with warm Hospitality and reliability.”
However, according to T+L, customers trying to claim their points were in for yet another long wait. Collective frustration was expressed across social media after customers received an email regarding their newfound points, which landed them in an online queue. In one customer’s case, their wait time was more than an hour.
The gifted miles is Southwest’s latest gesture to make up for the widespread travel upheaval during Christmas week. The company’s actions resulted in thousands of flight cancellations during one of the busiest travel times of the year. The effects were felt industry-wide as travelers scrambled to find flights on other airlines or confirm last-minute rental car reservations.
The Recovery Continues
Southwest’s CEO Bob Jordan apologized for the issues, explaining the airline “significantly” reduced its schedule to “catch up.”
In an interview on Good Morning America, Jordan said, “there’s just no way almost to apologize enough because we love our customers, we love our people, and we really impacted their plans.”
Southwest has also offered refunds for unused tickets as well as for “reasonable hotel accommodations, meals, and ground transportation expenses.”
Customers can also submit baggage claims online.
On Jan. 3, Southwest said it was back on track and operated with a 99.1% system completion rate from Dec. 30 through Jan. 1. The carrier expects “nearly all baggage delayed during the recent holiday travel week to be shipped or delivered by midweek.”
Jordan follows his initial call to accountability with additional apologies and a glimpse into what reconciliation will look like, saying:
“Our Leadership team is focused on a thorough review of the disruption with all the needed resources involved, and I expect that work to be completed swiftly. We’ve already taken immediate actions to mitigate the risk of this ever happening again, and the review work will inform additional actions and investment as well. We’ve asked our unions to participate in this review effort as well, and likewise, we are in regular communication with our Board of Directors.”
The company’s website also has a page for passengers to resolve refund requests and get answers to frequently asked questions.