Southwest Airlines has started a new program to give vouchers to passengers who face big delays or cancellations that are not caused by the weather. This program kicked off on April 16 as a response to a big problem in 2022 when many flights were canceled during the holidays. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has worked with Southwest to set up this compensation effort.

Southwest Airlines Launches Compensation Program for Flight Delays, Cancellations
Southwest Airlines planes
(Photo : F. Muhammad from Pixabay)

Southwest Airlines Rolls Out Voucher System for Delayed and Canceled Flights

Passengers who arrive at their destination three hours late because of issues controlled by the airline will get at least $75 in vouchers. 

According to Travel and Leisure, these vouchers can be given to someone else and are good for at least one year. To get a voucher, passengers need to fill out a form online within a year of their delayed flight.

The compensation effort is part of a larger agreement involving Southwest Airlines creating a $90 million fund for future issues. This decision came after the DOT fined Southwest a record $140 million due to the 2022 holiday problems, which left many travelers stranded.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated that this action shows the government's commitment to supporting travelers. He mentioned that this should help people trust that they will be treated fairly when flying.

This new voucher program from Southwest Airlines will continue for three years. However, the CEO of Southwest, Bob Jordan, hinted that such consumer-friendly programs might stick around even longer. 

This move by Southwest Airlines aims to improve how it handles flight disruptions and ensure passengers are compensated for significant inconveniences.

Related Article: Say Goodbye to Open Seating? Southwest Airlines Considers Major Changes

Southwest Airlines Considers Adding Reserved Seating

Southwest Airlines, known for its low-cost air travel, is exploring new seating options that could include reserved seats. This would be a significant change for the airline, which has traditionally used an open-seating policy. 

In this system, passengers pick any available seat when boarding the plane, depending on their boarding group.

The CEO of Southwest Airlines, Bob Jordan, mentioned on CNBC that the company is looking into ways to improve how passengers board and choose their seats. As per Inc., this move could help Southwest increase its earnings, especially after reporting a loss of more than $200 million in the first quarter.

Currently, all seats on a Southwest plane are economy class. Passengers can pay extra for early boarding but not for specific seats. 

If Southwest introduces reserved seating and premium options, it would follow other U.S. airlines that have successfully boosted their income through seating fees. In 2022, eight airlines made $4.2 billion from such fees.

This potential shift could attract customers who prefer to reserve specific seats ahead of time, including those seeking more legroom or convenient locations. 

While many enjoy Southwest's low fares and simple seating, some, especially frequent travelers to places like Hawaii, find the lack of reserved seating inconvenient.

The change, if implemented, would mark a significant strategy adjustment for Southwest Airlines, aiming to enhance customer choice and improve financial performance.

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