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Southwest Airlines competitors cap prices to help stranded passengers | news from usa

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Several of Southwest Airlines’ competitors will put price caps on travel to help the thousands of passengers stranded by the low-cost carrier’s mass flight cancellations this week. This news comes as the embattled airline said will operate a third of its schedule on Thursday, December 29th, but plans to “return to normal operations with minimal disruptions on Friday, December 30th.”

American Airlines and United will implement a cap on airfares between certain cities, according to CNN. Delta has implemented “no-lift fare caps in US domestic markets,” a carrier spokesperson tells Axios.

Alaska Airlines, which told Axios it already had price caps in place, will also lower fares in some cities. Frontier Airlines reportedly said it capped its higher fares to “pre-disruption levels”. Spirit, for its part, was waving “modification changes or fare difference” between dozens of cities by Jan. 3, the news outlet said.

Southwest canceled 2,357 flights on Thursday, more than any other carrier, according to data. As of Wednesday, Southwest cancellations reached 2,510. Federal officials said they would investigate the traffic breakdown.

Southwest’s descent into logistical chaos began on Thursday, December 22nd. While many airlines experienced cancellations due to a historic winter storm that brought blizzard conditions to much of the United States, Southwest canceled several flights in areas such as Southern California that were not suffering from inclement weather.

Cancellations disrupted thousands of passengers over the holiday weekend and this week with no clear route home. There were numerous reports of queues lasting hours, delays lasting days, complaints of overflowing luggage and southwestern weeping agents who were struggling with livid customers.

Southwest’s rebooking policy made the situation worse for the company’s customers. The airline does not reschedule passengers on competing airlines, according to CNN.

Since Southwest does not have agreements with other airlines that allow rebooking on rival airlines, this limits customers’ options. “Southwest is unique in the industry because we don’t have codeshare partners,” a Southwest spokesperson told CNN. “That’s just part of our business model.”

“I’m sorry,” Southwest Chief Executive Bob Jordan said in a video on Tuesday. He blamed the cancellations on low temperatures in the United States, claiming they had affected flight routes. “[A]After days of trying to operate as much of our full schedule as possible over the busy holiday weekend, we have reached a decision point to significantly reduce our flights to catch up.

Asked to comment on its rivals’ moves, Southwest told the Guardian in an email this morning: “We cannot comment on other airlines.”

“We continue to operate a reduced schedule, flying about a third of our schedule through Thursday, starting now. We have no updates or adjustments to share regarding Friday’s schedule,” the company said. “Our teams continue the work of bringing customers together with their bags.”

Southwest said it “sustains this additional resource” to help customers with web pages to locate luggage and where they can contact Southwest to rebook or request a refund.

The airline said on Thursday that while Southwest would operate approximately one-third of its schedule on Thursday, December 29, and that “we plan to return to normal operations with minimal disruptions on Friday, December 30.”

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the federal transit agency would investigate Southwest’s mass cancellations and determine whether it was meeting its legal obligations to affected customers. Buttigieg said that Southwest, at a minimum, should be paying cash refunds for canceled flights, as well as paying for room and board costs for passengers.

“While we all understand that you can’t control the weather, this has clearly crossed the line from what is an uncontrollable weather situation to something that is the direct responsibility of the airline,” Buttigieg recently told NBC Nightly News.

US Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell also promised to conduct an investigation. Two of Cantwell’s fellow Democratic senators and trade committee members also demanded that Southwest give “significant” compensation to abandoned customers, insisting the carrier is capable, if its plans to pay out $428 million in dividends in January are any indication. .

While the pandemonium in the Southwest caused widespread misery, some stranded passengers managed to find their way home together. Some hapless travelers – who were strangers to each other – teamed up on road trips instead of waiting for the airline.

Bridget Schuster, one of those travelers, took to TikTok and documented her journey from Florida to Ohio with three other passengers, all strangers at first.

“So far, no serial killer vibes,” Schuster joked.

Associated Press contributed reports