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You're Grounded

Mass cancellations by Southwest prompt criticism from USDOT

Mass cancellations by Southwest Airlines—beginning around the Christmas holidays and bleeding into the following week—prompted criticism from the U.S. Department of Transportation as at least 15,000 December flights and their passengers—over 60% of the monthly total for the company—were affected.

"USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service," the department tweeted on December 26. "The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan." That service plan is viewable as a PDF here.

The cancellations began last weekend as the holidays approached, stemming from Winter Storm Elliot, which affected almost all major airlines. However, Southwest didn't seem to recover from the aftermath of delays and cancellations as quickly or efficiently as its competitors, continuing to cancel flights into the following week.

Reports of at least 800 flight cancellations per day since December 24 have the low-fare specialists under fire. The company's CEO gave a videocast December 27 addressing the difficulties.

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