When there are severe winter storms, travelers can certainly expect some delays and cancellations – but no one could’ve anticipated Southwest Airlines’ recent meltdown over the holidays. The airline giant canceled more than 15,000 flights after its scheduling technology software was unable to accommodate massive pilot and flight attendant changes as weather impacted the plans of countless travelers.
Southwest has since attempted to rebuild trust with its loyal customers, offering 25,000 frequent flyer points (valued at around $300) to those impacted by these cancellations, in addition to refunds and reimbursements for the holiday flights. But misplaced luggage remains in limbo, and it may still be days and weeks before it all is returned to flyers.
No matter the efforts to mend fences, the incident certainly might change consumer perception of the airline. According to new CivicScience data, more than half of all Americans say they have no plans to fly with Southwest in the future – with just 18% confidently saying they will.
However, those who were ‘significantly impacted’ by the latest Southwest meltdown are more than twice as likely to fly with Southwest again compared to the Gen Pop. So while the loyalty of many Southwest fans won’t be shaken – perhaps sweetened by the promise of future vouchers and miles – it’s worth monitoring the 31% of travelers significantly impacted who claim they won’t be flying with the airline again. That’s a hefty share, who may require more than just a free flight to rebuild trust with Southwest.
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