Refunds Put Southwest Airlines Customer Service to Test

Southwest Airlines is inviting customers to send it requests for refunds and reimbursement of alternate travel expenses. 

The beleaguered airline has set up a page on its website for customers to submit requests for refunds for canceled flights as well as for related expenses, it said in a Thursday (Dec. 29) update. 

The page accepts these requests for flights canceled during the travel period from Dec. 24 through Jan. 2. It also offers information about how to submit receipts for consideration of reimbursement for additional expenses incurred due to flight cancellations or significant flight delays during that time period. 

The company said it will honor “reasonable requests” for reimbursement for meals, hotel stays, rental cars and other airline tickets. 

The update comes as Southwest continues to operate only one-third of its schedule after days of widely publicized cancellations of flights. The company said in the update that it expects to return to normal operations Friday (Dec. 30). 

In a video posted Wednesday (Dec. 28) on the company’s website, Southwest Chief Commercial Officer Ryan Green outlined ways to submit receipts for travel expenses incurred in disrupted travel and to request a refund for canceled or significantly delayed flights. 

“You can submit a full refund request for any canceled flights, and if you have any travel expenses due to the disruption, you can submit those receipts directly on our website,” Green said in the video. 

PYMNTS research has found consumers want their money quickly, whether it be for refunds or other disbursements from companies or other organizations. 

A growing share of consumers have experienced instant disbursements related to product purchases. In fact, about 25% of consumers have received at least one such disbursement in 2021 — a share that’s up from 5% in 2018, according to the “Disbursements Satisfaction Report,” a PYMNTS and Ingo Money collaboration. 

What’s more, two-thirds of consumers said they would be more likely to continue doing business with firms that provide a free real-time payment option — an increase from the 61% who said the same in 2020, according to the “Real-Time Payments Tracker,” a PYMNTS and The Clearing House collaboration. 

In its Thursday update addressing customers, Southwest Airlines said: “We know even our deepest apologies — to our customers, to our employees, and to all affected through this disruption — only go so far.”