back to article Southwest Airlines sued for failing to give prompt refunds after IT meltdown

The nationwide systems meltdown at Southwest Airlines should have prompted a quick return of funds to ticketed customers after thousands of flights were cancelled between December 24 to January 2, according to a freshly filed lawsuit. In the first of what is sure to be many sueballs over the Christmas and New Year IT calamity …

  1. Dev_Fit

    To be fair, bulk-reversing the transactions by flight number sounds like a risky move

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Why? Southwest know what flights they cancelled & they know who had tickets (as you can only buy tickets through them). Surely a refund for a cancelled flight should, by now, be a seemless and automatic process?

    2. anothercynic Silver badge

      It isn't a risky move if the airline knows which flights they cancelled on which day. Which they do.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It risks turning a windfall where they didn't waste money on fuel, landing fees, baggage handling etc etc, thus making 4x the usual profit, and resulting in an extra ordinary executive bonus payment, into a disaster where they a lost bit of actual money.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Well, a lawsuit's going to cost them more than their 4x usual profit...

    3. hoola Silver badge

      I suspect there is a link between their IT systems being stuffed up and the ability to process refunds in a timely manner.

      I would be very surprised if there is a paper system running in parallel.....

      Just accepting what a customer is presenting as proof they have booked is not that secure given the number of toe-rags out there taking any opportunity to rip people and companies off.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's our only recourse now, considering that our government is owned and operated by the major corporations. So far, the mega-corps don't seem to completely own the court system.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Americans corporations, and their take your money, deliver nothing, and make you whistle for it culture, have ruined the world.

      Once again, the fix is to bring the executives up on criminal charges. Theft, conspiracy to defraud, and wire fraud.

  3. nautica Silver badge

    The icon is for Southwest's upper-management brain-trust

    From the article--

    "...It [Southwest Airlines] also said it was providing...customers...25,000 of its rewards program points with a value of more than $300."

    My family doesn't eat 'reward program points'.

    1. Marty McFly Silver badge

      Re: The icon is for Southwest's upper-management brain-trust

      If your budget is that tight, maybe you shouldn't be traveling.

      I agree though. SW should offer both. Some customers who are regular travelers and bought a $99 fare may prefer $300 worth of travel credits. Other customers may want a full refund.

    2. thejoelr

      Re: The icon is for Southwest's upper-management brain-trust

      You don't want a travel voucher from the airline who just ruined your Christmas?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The icon is for Southwest's upper-management brain-trust

        About as much as I wanted a free oil change voucher from the company that I paid to change my oil and do a 40-point check - who didn't do any of the checks and caused a quart-a-week oil leak. It took a BBB complaint to get them to fix it for free (they redid the oil change and the leak mysteriously disappeared), and I threw away the free oil change voucher afterwards.

        If Southwest cancels a flight due to known issues with seriously obsolete systems, the bare minimum they should be permitted by law to do is refund the flight cost in full and pay for any directly-caused expenses (like a hotel if stuck at an airport because the connecting flight was cancelled). If they choose to do more, that's good customer service, but less should result in major fines. Like 3x the amount they failed to refund.

  4. yoganmahew

    Disintermediate the GDS?

    This is what you get. You have to have all the customer facing systems yourself. The major GDS at the time of Covid had huge negative cashflow as they processed refunds for passengers booked through them (on behalf of the agencies they booked through). It is a normal, automated process using BSP (bank clearing between GDS and airlines) to debit the airlines. Southwest have started to use GDS ticketing, but only for limited fares. Prior to this, even GDS bookings were paid directly to the airline with refunds and exchanges directly to the airline.

    The best customer service my aunt fanny...

  5. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

    Class action will be a problem

    Lawyers love class action suits. Without them a person might get their 300 dollars back but with them the lawyers and lead plaintiff will get millions while the rest of the proles will get their cut of what's left - a check for 5 bucks.

    Opt out if you want all your money back, file a dispute with your card provider instead.

    1. OhForF' Silver badge

      Re: Class action will be a problem

      No decent lawyer would be willing to settle this for less than what the prospective passengers paid plus interest rates plus their legal fees (which usually amount to enough money to keep them interested in the case even if they "only" get those).

      I am aware "decent lawyer" is considered an oxymoron by a lot of people especially west of the big pond.

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