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Southwest cancels more flights as rival carriers cap fares for stranded flyers

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Travelers at Baltimore Washington International airport deal with the impact of Southwest Airlines canceling more than 12,000 flights around the Christmas holiday weekend across the country and in Baltimore, Maryland, December 27, 2022.

Michael McCoy | Reuters

Southwest Airlines slashed another 2,500 flights on Wednesday, sending more frustrated customers scrambling to find seats on other airlines.

The Dallas-based carrier’s cuts amounted to 60% of its schedule and marked another day of disruptions even as weather conditions and operations at other airlines improved.

Airlines have canceled thousands of flights since last week when severe winter weather roiled holiday travel around the U.S., but Southwest’s outsized disruptions have drawn scrutiny from the Biden administration and lawmakers. Southwest has blamed its performance on its internal systems.

To help stranded travelers, Delta Air Lines said Wednesday that it “capped fares in all the markets Southwest operates” and that the fares are valid through Saturday. American Airlines said it was capping fares in “cities severely affected by cancellations” and United said it has capped fares in “select cities.”

The airlines did not provide further details on the caps. The moves came after Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg urged other carriers to cap fares.

Southwest said it would reimburse travelers for “reasonable” hotel, meal and alternative transportation expenses if customers submit receipts. Earlier this week, Southwest CEO Bob Jordan told employees the carrier would fly just about one third of its schedule for several days to try to reset its operations.

Frustrations for travelers trying to find their home were heightened because the scarcity of of spare seats on other airlines during the busy holiday period.

Airlines will routinely limit last-minute fares, which are generally high and often coincide with limited seats, during emergencies like hurricanes so travelers can evacuate.


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