In response to an influx of last-minute bookings made after Southwest Airlines Co. capped fares in some cities, rival airlines have followed suit.
Thousands of flights have been cancelled in the past week.
Southwest canceled more than 2,500 flights on Wednesday, according to data from FlightAware. This represents 62% of the airline's scheduled departures. Chief Executive Bob Jordan said Tuesday that the company plans to run a reduced schedule for the next few days as the airline repositions its staff and planes. The carrier has canceled close to 11,000 flights from Thursday through Tuesday as it has struggled to stabilize operations hampered amid the wintry weather.
The disruptions at Southwest have left thousands of travelers stranded during the busy holiday travel period and have drawn scrutiny from lawmakers and Biden administration officials. Other airlines have been able to normalize their operations following the winter storm that hit parts of the country last week, but Southwest's challenges have continued.
On Tuesday, Delta Air Lines announced that it would be capping fares in all markets where Southwest Airlines operates through January 2. American Airlines followed suit, tweeting that it would be "putting a cap on fares for select cities" in order to help people get where they need to go.
A spokesperson for United Airlines told The Wall Street Journal that it is also capping fares in select cities to make sure its flights are available to as many customers as possible.
Spirit Airlines is offering waived modification charges and fare differences for travel to and from more than a dozen cities, including New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. This offer is valid through January 3. For more information, please check the travel advisory on the Spirit Airlines website.
A spokesperson for Frontier Airlines Holdings Inc. told The Wall Street Journal that it has capped its highest fares at "pre-disruption levels." This means that the airline will not raise its fares even if other airlines do so.
After Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called on airlines to cap fares, several rival carriers have announced similar moves. "I'm encouraged to see several airlines have now committed to this step—all of them should," he said.
Mr. Buttigieg said Tuesday that his agency intends to hold Southwest Airlines accountable for the travel disruptions and ensure that affected customers are compensated.
Southwest is working with affected travelers to process refunds and assist with detours. "We have some real work to do in making this right. For now, I want you to know that we're committed to that," CEO Mr. Jordan said.
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