The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today assessed a civil penalty against Southwest Airlines for not responding in a timely manner to complaints filed by consumers, including passengers with disabilities, and for not adequately responding to the passengers' specific complaints in its responses. The airline was ordered to cease and desist from further violations and assessed a civil penalty of $150,000.
"When airlines receive complaints from passengers, we expect them to provide prompt responses that appropriately answer the specific complaints," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This is an important part of our work protecting the rights of passengers, and we will continue to take enforcement action when necessary."
The Department's Aviation Enforcement Office found that Southwest failed to respond in a timely manner to a large number of disability-related and other consumer complaints it received from June 2011 through January 2012 because of a problem with its website. When it responded most were sent late. The responses also failed to contain information specifically required by DOT rules.