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DOT examines whether Southwest’s programs were ‘ideological’ during the vacation meltdown

January 27, 2023: On Wednesday, the Transportation Department said it is in the initial phase of investigating Southwest Airlines’ holiday meltdown and seeing if the carrier’s schedules were unrealistic.

Southwest has said it cancelled more than 16,000 flights between December 21 and 31 as it struggled to start from severe winter weather. Meanwhile, executives said they had to withdraw more flights to steady the operation.

The company and labour unions have pointed out outmoded scheduling platforms that needed to be designed to handle the several flight changes that occurred over that period.

“DOT is probing whether Southwest executives are connected in unrealistic travelling scheduling, which under federal law is thought an unfair and deceptive practice,” a DOT spokesperson stated. “DOT will leverage its investigative and enforcement power to make sure consumers are protected, and this process will keep changing as the Department learns more.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has vowed to hold Southwest accountable for the disruptions, leaving hundreds of thousands of travellers stranded.

“Our holiday flight schedule was designed and offered to our customers with the sponsorship of a solid plan operating and with ample staffing,” Southwest stated Wednesday.

“We will continue cooperating with any inquiry or request from government oversight or elected officials. We’re focused on learning from this event, which mitigates the risk of a repeat occurrence, and providing the hospitality and outstanding service our customers anticipate from us.”

Southwest is scheduled to report the outcome before the market opens on Thursday.

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DOT examines whether Southwest’s programs were ‘ideological’ during the vacation meltdown