Southwest Airlines passengers can now file claims for reimbursement due to mass flight cancellations

Airlines, especially Southwest Airlines, have been working to recover from delays and flight cancellations in the wake of a powerful bomb cyclone, deadly blizzard and frigid arctic temperatures that snarled holiday travel.

DALLAS - Thousands of Southwest Airlines flights have been canceled or delayed this week due to a powerful and deadly winter storm that stranded passengers, employees and airplanes across the country.

If you're among the thousands of Southwest Airlines passengers affected by the mass flight cancellations and delays, there are a few ways you can submit information for a possible refund or reimbursement.


Southwest Airlines has created a travel disruption website dedicated to passengers seeking reimbursement for affected flights.

There, you can add your reservation number and name and submit the request to Southwest.



If you've incurred additional expenses, like booking a hotel, travel on another airline, a rental car or food, Southwest said it would "honor reasonable requests for reimbursement."

You can send Southwest an email with receipts or check out their website for more information.

Are you wondering where your luggage is? Many Southwest Airlines passengers have been separated from their luggage, and there is a form that can be filled out to help expedite the return of lost bags.

Southwest Airlines CEO: 'I'm truly sorry'

Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan has apologized on behalf of the airline for the chaotic week of travel, saying Tuesday he is "truly sorry." 

The apology comes after the United States Department of Transportation on Tuesday said it was concerned by the mass cancellations and vowed to investigate the situation.

Airlines, especially Southwest Airlines, have been working to recover from delays and flight cancellations in the wake of a powerful bomb cyclone, deadly blizzard and frigid arctic temperatures that snarled holiday travel.

Southwest Airlines canceled about 90% of its flights since Christmas, and thousands more flights are expected to be canceled or delayed over the next several days while the airline continues recovering and returning to normal operations.

"I want everyone who is dealing with the problems we've been facing, whether you haven't been able to get to where you need to go or you're one of our heroic employees caught up in a massive effort to stabilize the airlines, to know that we're doing everything we can to return to a normal operation," Jordan said in a video message on Tuesday. "And please also hear that I'm truly sorry."

Jordan says the airline has a highly-complex network and depends on aircraft and crews to be continuously in motion to get to where they need to be.

"With our large fleet of airplanes and flight crews out of position in dozens of locations, and after days of trying to operate as much of our full schedule across the busy holiday weekend, we reached a decision point to significantly reduce our flying to catch up," he said.

Jordan said he spoke with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday to provide an update on the unfolding situation. He shared all the details on what the airline is doing to "make things right" for Southwest Airlines customers.

Part of that plan, Jordan said, is to fly a reduced schedule and reposition aircraft and flight crews. The airline is also working to process refunds and work with customers who have been severely affected by the mass flight cancellations.

The ripple effect of canceled flights

The winter storm has been causing quite a bit of chaos for holiday travelers, and for people traveling on Southwest Airlines, it doesn't look like things will be back to normal for at least the next few days.

While the winter storm has also impacted other airlines such as Delta, United and American, Southwest was particularly hard-hit with delays and cancellations.

There are at least two reasons for this.

"One of the reasons has been due to weather," FOX Weather meteorologist Jason Frazer said. "The other reason is how Southwest operates as an airline."

Frazer said airlines such as United, Delta and American use a hub and spoke system.


Airlines operate in and out of hub airports, which is a larger airport that is used as a stopover to help get passengers from point A to point B.

For example, if you were traveling from Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), if your airline has a hub in New York City, you may stop there and catch a connecting flight to the West Coast.

The flight you took to New York City may then get a new set of passengers and return to Boston.

Southwest Airlines uses a different system.

"With Southwest, they work a little bit differently," Frazer said. "They will take flights from Atlanta. One flight will move from Atlanta to St. Louis. That same flight will then move from St. Louis to Omaha. From Omaha, that same flight will move from Omaha to Oklahoma City."

So, if that flight from Atlanta to St. Louis is canceled, it will have a trickle-down effect, impacting passengers in St. Louis, Omaha, Oklahoma City and beyond.