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Southwest faces investigations from Biden Administration and Congress after holiday travel delays

Southwest Airlines (LUV) faces investigations from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue after massive flight disruptions over the three-day weekend saw 70% of the airline’s scheduled flights canceled Monday alone. I was.

On the one hand, President Biden and his transportation department have pledged to investigate whether the company is adhering to its customer service plan. Then, Tuesday afternoon, a powerful Senate panel announced plans to investigate the matter.

Biden: ‘Our administration is working to ensure airlines are held accountable’ tweeted on tuesday Amplifies the review released Monday night by the Department of Transportation.

“The problems with Southwest Airlines over the past few days have gone beyond the weather,” added Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Maria Cantwell, D-WA, adding, “The committee is looking at the causes of these disruptions and their impact on consumers. We plan to investigate the impact.”

Cancellations occurred across the country, spurred by a major winter storm, but were exceptionally pronounced in the Southwest. has announced plans to operate at about a third of its capacity.

The back and forth with the Biden administration also came in a year when Biden and his aides have often criticized the travel industry for how it treats travelers on issues ranging from cancellations to excessive fees.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has promised he is tracking the issue closely, but lawmakers like Washington Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) complaining of delays. It’s the result of a “massive mismanagement”.

The company’s shares are down 6% after a massive wave of turmoil and criticism from Washington and travelers.

“I sincerely apologize”

Southwest Airlines’ troubles continued on Tuesday, with thousands of cancellations, according to FlightAware. As of Tuesday afternoon, 63% of Southwest Airlines’ flights, in contrast to other major U.S. airlines such as Alaska (ALK), American (AAL), United (UAL) and Delta (DAL) We had a cancellation rate of less than 10%.

“Our sincere apologies for this are just the beginning,” Southwest said in a statement Tuesday. “We work hard to make things right for the people we let down.”

The company also announced a new site where customers can try to rebook or request a refund.

President Joe Biden boards Air Force One on Dec. 16. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

But the Biden administration said it could push the airline further in a tweet Monday night by the Department of Transportation.

This week’s travel disruptions include the right to refunds when an airline cancels or significantly changes a traveler’s flight when prompted by issues under the airline’s control, the Department of Transportation said this summer. It occurred after the company proposed new rules codifying the protection of its passengers.

In September, the administration also proposed new rules on airfares and announced plans to spend infrastructure funds to upgrade American terminals as part of an overall effort to make flying less painful.

Ben Werschkul is the Washington correspondent for Yahoo Finance.

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