Committee to Hold Hearings in Wake of Southwest Airlines Operational, Customer Service Meltdown, Cantwell Says

January 4, 2023

Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation said that the Committee intends to hold hearings in the wake of Southwest Airlines massive operational and customer service failures.  

“Southwest’s customers are rightfully dissatisfied and deserve better,” Sen. Cantwell said. “These consumers need refunds and reimbursements for their expenses. I have spoken with CEO Bob Jordan and Secretary Buttigieg about these concerns. The Committee will be holding hearings for FAA reauthorization to examine how to strengthen consumer protections and airline operations.”

On December 27, 2022, Sen. Cantwell released this statement: “The problems at Southwest Airlines over the last several days go beyond weather. The Committee will be looking into the causes of these disruptions and its impact to consumers. Many airlines fail to adequately communicate with consumers during flight cancellations. Consumers deserve strong protections, including an updated consumer refund rule.”

In November, Chair Cantwell and Sens. Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal filed a comment on the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposed rule on airline ticket refunds, urging DOT to strengthen and expeditiously finalize the proposed rule to ensure that consumers are fairly compensated when an airline cancels or significantly delays their flight – including secondary costs incurred from hotels, meals and transportation in the event of a cancellation or significant delay due to a problem within the airline’s control.