Southwest Airlines is in serious trouble, and others within the airline industry are stepping up in hopes of making loyal customers about of the passengers stranded by the budget airline.
Southwest has continued to cancel flights late into the week, after the airline was unable to survive a weather hiccup over the Christmas holiday weekend. While other carriers bounced back, Southwest’s 90’s era scheduling system imploded, stranding tens of thousands of passengers and misplacing luggage so badly that the company’s customer service representatives don’t think it will ever be found.
Now, amid the chaos, a number of other airlines are trying to help.
CNN Business reports that United Airlines and American Airlines are limiting how much it costs to fly to and from certain cities on their own flights to help the thousands of Southwest customers left waiting in airports across the country. The move comes after some stranded travelers ranted about fares in the thousands of dollars on competitor airlines as they tried to rebook their flights. “This should be illegal. … I’m looking at you: @united @AmericanAir @Delta,” one person trying to fly from San Diego to Orlando, Florida, posted on Twitter, showing one-way fares from each of those airlines that exceeded $2,000; one fare hovered close to $3,000.
The public pressure eventually made an impact.
When another commenter reacted in disgust, American responded. “We’re putting a cap on fares for select cities,” the airline noted, part of its effort to “[do] our part to help get people where they need to be.” United says it’s committed to doing the same through Saturday in a good portion of the cities covered by Southwest in the US and Latin America, “to make sure our flights are available to as many customers as possible,” an airlines spokesman tells CNN. The outlet notes that Southwest’s policy of not rebooking passengers on canceled flights via rival airlines has been exacerbating the issue.
On Wednesday alone, Southwest canceled more than 2,500 flights – more than half of all canceled flights worldwide.