Southwest Airways has been hit with a record-setting $140 million fantastic for just about shitting its pants through the 2022 vacation journey season. The civil penalty leveraged in opposition to Southwest is 30 occasions bigger than any Division of Transportation airline fantastic in historical past, in keeping with a press release from the DOT.

The DOT additionally stated it will require Southwest to begin a $90 million program that’ll subject a $75 flight credit score to any passenger whose arrival is delayed greater than 3 hours when it’s the airline’s fault — that features mechanical points.

“At this time’s motion units a brand new precedent and sends a transparent message: if airways fail their passengers, we’ll use the complete extent of our authority to carry them accountable,” Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Transportation Secretary, stated within the assertion.

For many who don’t keep in mind, operational failures on the a part of Southwest and an enormous winter storm led to about 16,900 flights being canceled over the Christmas vacation in 2022. It led to about two million passengers being stranded.

The $140 million fantastic provides to the practically $600 million in refunds and reimbursements the airline has beforehand handed out due to the snafu. Officers say they’re going to make use of nearly all of the fantastic to compensate clients impacted by future Southwest flight cancelations and different delays, which we all know are coming. It’s Southwest, in spite of everything.

Transportation officers stated their investigation of the journey nightmare “analyzing tens of hundreds of pages paperwork, conducting a number of multi-day, in-person audits and web site visits at Southwest’s headquarters, reviewing hundreds of shopper complaints, and consulting with varied third events, reminiscent of airports.”

It discovered that the airline violated shopper safety legal guidelines on offering customer support, immediate flight-status notifications and immediate refunds, in keeping with the DOT launch.

“Caring for passengers is not only the proper factor to do — it’s required, and this penalty ought to put all airways on discover to take each step attainable to make sure a meltdown like this by no means occurs once more,” Mayor Pete stated.

In a press launch, Southwest stated it has “realized from the occasion, and now can shift its whole focus to the long run.”

“We have now spent the previous yr acutely centered on efforts to reinforce the Buyer Expertise with important investments and initiatives that speed up operational resiliency, improve cross-team collaboration and bolster total preparedness for winter operations,” Bob Jordan, Southwest Airways President and Chief Govt Officer stated in a press release.

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