It hasn’t been a good week for Southwest Airlines as the airline suffered the worst system outage in it’s history caused by a router issue and failure of all backup systems the resulted in more than 2300 cancellations.
Thousands of additional flights were substantially delayed as the airline slowly moves back to normal operations.
Hundreds of thousands of passengers were affected by the cancellations and delays, many of which took to social media voicing their anger about the situation including the total lack of customer service to provide adequate information about refunds and reimbursements.
Dallas Morning News (access here) reported daily about the developments at the Dallas based carrier.
Five days after a faulty router caused a system-wide outage that led to thousands of canceled flights, Southwest Airlines’ operations returned to normal on Monday.
Now, the focus shifts to winning back outraged customers stranded by the outage, many of whom had multiple flights cancelled over the course of several days.
The outage occurred early Wednesday afternoon after a network router failed and the back-up systems failed to kick in.
Although the outage was fixed about 12 hours later, the scale of the disruption wreaked havoc on Southwest’s operations for the next several days as the Dallas-based carrier worked to get planes, crews and passengers where they were supposed to be.
In total, the airline said it canceled about 2,300 flights from Wednesday through Sunday. That represents about 11 percent of the 19,500 flights the carrier operated in that time frame.
On the Southwest Airlines Facebook and Twitter page one can see hundreds of posts left by angry passengers who are seeking contact to customer relations to apply for a refund or reschedule the flights they missed. Apparently very few of the passengers had a travel insurance so you find questions like “Where do I get a refund of my hotel night that I missed?” which obviously won’t be covered by the airline.
The company is offering flexible travel accommodations to anyone who was booked to fly on the airline between July 20 and July 26. Affected passengers are able to re-book their flight at the same price anytime within two weeks of the original date of departure, or receive a refund or travel credit.
Southwest’s customer relations team has also begun contacting affected passengers directly, offering them a 50 percent discount on a future round trip domestic flight.
In most cases it appears that a full refund would be the most sensible thing to apply for considering people likely found their way home another way, even if they had to purchase a ticket on another airline.
If passenger can’t get anywhere with the airline they should file a complaint with the Department of Transportation (DOT) Consumer Protection Office but it appears that Southwest is trying to get the matter resolved as efficiently as possible. Even though it might take plenty of time to get in touch with all the passengers.
Cases like these show how useful and important a comprehensive travel insurance can be which passengers can either purchase outright or it might be included as part of their premium credit card like American Express Gold/Platinum.
Obviously this was way beyond Southwest Airlines influence and you bet they’d love to have this fixed rather sooner than later. It’s estimated Southwest lost 10 Mio USD from ticket sales alone since their website was unavailable as well as they system outage reached into every part of the companies operation.