Southwest gifts 25,000 bonus points in apology for holiday travel disruptions

Southwest Airlines is offering a new "gesture of goodwill" to some customers who were affected by last week’s travel chaos.

The airline confirmed to FOX Television Stations that "significantly impacted customers" whose flights were scheduled to operate between Christmas Eve and Jan. 2, 2023, but were canceled or delayed greater than three hours, will receive 25,000 Rapid Rewards points for each paid, ticketed flyer on their reservation. 

"We disrupted many of our customers’ travel and holiday plans, and for that, we are truly sorry," a spokesperson for Southwest told FOX. "We have a long and proud 51-year record of delivering on our customers’ expectations and connecting them to important moments in their lives. But we aren’t perfect, and when we fall short, we aim to do the right thing. We truly hope customers will accept this gesture in the spirit intended—along with our sincerest apologies, as we are committed to delivering on their expectations and regaining their trust in Southwest Airlines." 

According to the airline, the points equate to a base fare redemption value of more than $300 and are in addition to the customers’ reimbursements and refunds on flights and incidental expenses related to their recent travel disruption. 

"As we embark on the journey to rebuild our customers’ faith, loyalty, and trust, we know we have much work to do," the spokesperson continued. "It’s a passionate pursuit, and our Southwest Family has never been more committed to the all-important imperative of serving our customers with the warm Hospitality and reliability." 

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Southwest said there are currently several high-priority efforts underway to assist its impacted customers, including processing refunds from canceled flights, reimbursing customers for expenses incidental to irregular operations and reuniting customers with their baggage.

On Tuesday, the airline reported "solid progress" with a 99.1% system completion rate from Dec. 30 through Jan. 1. The carrier said it expects that "nearly all baggage delayed during the recent holiday travel week to be shipped or delivered by midweek."

Last week, Southwest struggled to recover after being overwhelmed by a winter storm that left hundreds of pilots and flight attendants stranded out of position to operate flights.

It was likely that far more than 1 million passengers had been affected. Southwest canceled more than 13,000 flights since its meltdown began on Dec. 22. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.