Dec 28, 2022 - Economy

What other airlines are doing amid Southwest's travel chaos

Travelers wait to check-in at the Alaska Airlines counter at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in San Francisco, California, US, on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022

Travelers wait to check-in at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in on Dec. 27, 2022. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Multiple airlines are working to help travelers get home amid the chaotic mess caused by Southwest Airlines' recent flurry of cancellations and delays.

The big picture: Thousands of American travelers have had to rebook their travel plans after Southwest delayed and canceled thousands of flights due to winter storms and the carrier's own scheduling system.

  • Southwest canceled more than 2,500 on Wednesday after canceling thousands of Monday and Tuesday, too, per FlightAware data.

Details: Stuck Southwest travelers are doing whatever it takes to get home, including booking flights through other airlines, which can cost thousands of dollars.

  • In response, multiple airlines have announced new price caps and waiver policies to help struggling travelers get home. Most of the policies last until the first week of 2023.
  • "I'm encouraged to see several airlines have now committed to this step – all of them should," U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted Wednesday

Delta, United add waivers, price caps

Delta Air Lines spokesperson Morgan Currant told Axios that the airline has added "walk-up fare caps in U.S. domestic markets." Delta said the prices can be found online and suggested reviewing the carrier's website for more information.

Alaska Airlines told Axios in an email that fare caps are already built into the carrier's pricing model. But the airline has decided to lower fares in select cities.

  • "We’re doing everything we can to get guests, whose travel was impacted by winter storms, to their destinations," Alaska said in an email.

United Airlines told Axios in an email that it would cap fares in specific cities in order to help make flights available to stuck passengers.

  • The policy, which began Tuesday, will last through Dec. 31 and will focus on "markets served by Southwest," according to United spokesperson Josh Freed.
  • "We continue to get people to their destinations as safely and quickly as possible this busy holiday season," Freed said.

Frontier Airlines told Axios in an email that it capped its highest fares at “pre-disruption levels" and sold thousands of flights in recent days.

  • "We are running almost completely full, accommodating as many passengers as possible," said Jennifer de la Cruz, senior director of corporate communications, in an email to Axios.

American Airlines confirmed in an email to Axios that it has capped prices on fares.

  • The airline tweeted Wednesday that it was looking to "help get people where they need to be and we’re putting a cap on fares for select cities.”

Spirit Airlines issued a waiver for any modification changes or fare difference between now and Jan. 3 to and from dozens of cities, including Boston and New York.

  • Spirit Airlines did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Southwest refunds: How to request or rebook

Details: Southwest opened a self-service tool where customers impacted by travel disruptions through Jan. 2 can request a refund or rebook flights.

Yes, but: Rebooked flight needs to be “in the original class of service or travel standby (within 30 days of your original date of travel between the original city-pairs and in accordance with our accommodation procedures).”

Southwest reimbursement: Hotel, meals and travel

Southwest customers that have their flight canceled or significantly delayed between Dec. 24 and Jan. 2 can submit receipts for reimbursement consideration, the company said.

How it works: Southwest said customers should submit receipts through a link on the website.

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