Southwest Airlines Refusal of Refunds for Canceled Flights Class Action

If you have a ticket to travel on an airline, and the airline cancels your flight, you expect to get a refund. After all, you didn’t cancel. But the complaint for this class action alleges that Southwest Airlines Co. is not refunding tickets for its canceled flights; instead, it’s offering only rebooking on another flight or a travel credit that will eventually expire.

The class for this action is all persons in the US who bought tickets for travel on a Southwest Airlines flight schedule, to operate from March 1, 2020 through the date of a class certification order in this case, whose flight was canceled by Southwest, and who were not provided a refund.

In order to combat the spread of the coronavirus, numerous government entities have issued shelter-in-place orders. The complaint says that “as of the drafting of this Class Action Complaint, at least 316 million people in at least 42 states, three counties, nine cities, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico are living under such orders.” Because of this, the demand for air travel has declined.

Airlines pay attention to “load factors” on their routes, to determine how many flights they should be running. They do not want to operate flights that carry too few passengers to be profitable. When load factors fall too low, they cancel flights.

Southwest first reduced the number of routes it flew by 20%. Since then, it has made additional cuts, which the complaint sums up by saying, “In other words, Southwest canceled 1,500 daily flights, or about 40% of its typical daily service, due to declining demand.”

However, Southwest is not refunding the money passengers paid to book these flights. Instead, it’s offering only two options; rebook on a different flight that’s still scheduled to fly or take a travel credit that will be valid only through June 30, 2021.

According to the complaint, “Southwest’s Contract of Carriage mandates refunds, not credits, in this situation.”

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued an Enforcement Notice Regarding Refunds by Carriers Given the Unprecedented Impact of the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency on Air Travel. The complaint quotes this document as saying that “passengers should be refunded promptly when their scheduled flights are cancelled or significantly delayed…. [T]he airlines’ obligation to refund passengers for cancelled or significantly delayed flights remains unchanged.”

Also, it says, “The longstanding obligation of carriers to provide refunds for flights that carriers cancel or significantly delay does not cease when flight disruptions are outside of the carrier’s control (e.g., as a result of government restrictions).” This is because the point is not that the cancellation is not the carrier’s fault but that “the cancellation is through no fault of the passenger.”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Southwest Airlines Refusal of Refunds for Canceled Flights Complaint

April 13, 2020

If you have a ticket to travel on an airline, and the airline cancels your flight, you expect to get a refund. After all, you didn’t cancel. But the complaint for this class action alleges that Southwest Airlines Co. is not refunding tickets for its canceled flights; instead, it’s offering only rebooking on another flight or a travel credit that will eventually expire.

Southwest Airlines Refusal of Refunds for Canceled Flights Complaint

Case Event History

Southwest Airlines Refusal of Refunds for Canceled Flights Complaint

April 13, 2020

If you have a ticket to travel on an airline, and the airline cancels your flight, you expect to get a refund. After all, you didn’t cancel. But the complaint for this class action alleges that Southwest Airlines Co. is not refunding tickets for its canceled flights; instead, it’s offering only rebooking on another flight or a travel credit that will eventually expire.

Southwest Airlines Refusal of Refunds for Canceled Flights Complaint
Tags: Airline TIckets, Airlines, Failure To Pay For Refund