Southwest Airlines Sued for Denying Passenger Refunds During Cancellation Chaos

A lawsuit was filed against Southwest Airlines by a disgruntled passenger who claimed he was refused a refund for his canceled flight.

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A Southwest Airlines passenger filed a lawsuit for receiving a credit instead of a refund
Photo: Kevin Dietsch (Getty Images)

A Southwest Airlines passenger filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the airline on Friday, claiming the company did not refund passengers’ money amidst thousands of cancellations following a severe winter storm that swept through the U.S.

In the lawsuit, Eric Capdeville, says he purchased tickets for himself and his daughter for flights from New Orleans, Louisiana to Portland, Oregon set to depart on December 27, but upon arrival at the airport, Capdeville says in the lawsuit, he was informed his flight had been canceled.

Southwest Airlines was not able to book Capdeville on another flight and according to the lawsuit obtained by Gizmodo, he was “not given a refund, but was only offered a credit for use on a future flight.”

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The complaint says Southwest Airlines is in breach of section nine of the Contract of Carriage which states if the carrier cancels the flight due to service interruptions, they must “transport the passenger at no additional charge on the carrier’s next flight” to their destination, or “refund the unused portion of the passenger’s fare.”

Capdeville’s lawyer did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.

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Southwest canceled around 5,400 of its flights in less than 48 hours beginning on December 26, leaving passengers stranded as storms raged across parts of the South and Midwest.

As other airlines recovered from the storm, Southwest continued canceling flights and didn’t resume normal operations until December 30. The company’s lagging response to the storm has prompted an investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called the airline’s disruptions “unacceptable” in a letter to Southwest’s CEO, Bob Jordan on Thursday, adding, “Americans expect when they purchase an airline ticket that they will arrive at their destination safely, reliably, and affordably.”

Jordan said in a video posted on Wednesday, “I’m truly sorry … we have some real work to do in making this right.” Jordan insisted the company was “making headway” and said he was “optimistic to be back on track before next week.”

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A Southwest Airlines spokesperson did not comment on the pending litigation but said in an email to Gizmodo, “There are several high-priority efforts underway to do right by our Customers, including processing refunds from canceled flights, and reimbursing Customers for expenses incurred as a result of the irregular operations.”

However, she did not directly answer questions regarding if and how passengers can get a refund to their credit cards instead of an airline credit. The spokesperson instead told us people can visit their travel disruption page for more information related to requesting refunds.