President Joe Biden stated that his administration will hold airlines accountable following nationwide flight cancellations caused by a severe winter storm this week.
“Thousands of flights nationwide have been cancelled around the holidays. “Our Administration is working to hold airlines accountable,” Biden tweeted on Tuesday. “If you’ve been impacted by cancellations, check the @USDOT dashboard to see if you’re eligible for compensation.”
Thousands of flights were cancelled this week, many of which were operated by Southwest Airlines.
According to the flight tracking website FlightAware, which tracks flight status in real time, approximately 4,000 domestic flights in the United States were cancelled on Monday.
According to FlightAware, more than 2,900 Southwest flights were cancelled on Monday, more than 2,500 on Tuesday, and nearly 2,500 on Wednesday.
The Department of Transportation announced on Tuesday that it would investigate the flight cancellations that had left thousands of people stranded at airports.
“USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays, as well as reports of slow customer service,” the department tweeted. “The Department will investigate whether the cancellations were controllable and whether Southwest is following its customer service plan.”
A Senate committee has also stated that it will investigate the causes of the Southwest Airlines cancellations.
“The Committee will investigate the causes of these disruptions and their impact on consumers,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
“Many airlines fail to adequately communicate with passengers during flight cancellations. Consumers deserve strong safeguards, such as an updated consumer refund rule,” Cantwell added.
Several members of Congress have also asked Southwest Airlines to compensate them for the cancellations.
Sens. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in a joint statement that Southwest cannot avoid compensating passengers by claiming the flight cancellations were caused by recent winter storms, as executives from the airline have said the cancellations were largely the result of an internal system failure.
“There is no real way for Southwest to make this right for those travellers whose vacations have been ruined,” the senators said in a statement. “However, the company can begin by fairly compensating passengers whose flights were cancelled, including not only rebooked tickets, ticket refunds, and reimbursement for hotel, meal, and transportation costs, but also significant monetary compensation for the disruption to their holiday plans.”