Southwest Airlines passengers dance and cheer as couple accused of refusing to wear masks get thrown off flight

Southwest Airlines flight
Passengers on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 flight line up to exit the aircraft after arriving at Houston’s Hobby airport March 20, 2021.

  • A TikTok video shows a woman arguing with a flight attendant about not complying with a mask-wearing mandate.
  • Passengers on the Southwest Airlines flight can be heard heckling and jeering at the passenger.
  • As the woman and her partner are escorted off the flight, those on the plane cheer and dance.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A TikTok video shows an entire plane clapping and cheering after a couple is escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight, Newsweek reported.

In the video shared by user Brendan Edler, a woman is seen arguing with a crew member.

The footage, which is filmed discreetly from three rows back, starts mid-argument.

The dispute revolves around a passenger who refused to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols by not wearing a mask.

Read more: Inside Southwest Airlines’ legendary culture – and how to get hired there

It should be noted that the woman is wearing a mask at the start of the clip.

The reaction of those on the plane, however, suggests this was not the case earlier on.

The woman, whose identity is unknown, is insistent that she did not break the rules. “I did comply,” says the woman to the flight attendant. “You’re saying I didn’t comply and put my mask on when you ask asked me to?”

Shortly after, the woman accuses the flight attendant of not telling the truth. “You’re a liar and you have to live with that,” she is heard saying.

Those on the flight then begin to heckle the woman and start saying their farewells.

“Bye,” shouts one person.

“Get off the plane,” yells another.

“That’s what happens when you don’t say you’re sorry,” someone else can be heard saying.

The woman then stands up, shows her middle finger to those on the plane, and walks off with her traveling companion.

The remaining passengers appear jubilant, with one woman proceeding to dance.

Insider contacted Southwest for further context on the incident. The airline said that it does not have any further details on the situation but provided information on its mask-wearing policy.

“Federal law requires Southwest to ensure every person age two and over to wear a mask at all times throughout a flight, including during boarding and deplaning,” a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said. “We communicate the face-covering mandate to all Customers at multiple touchpoints throughout the travel journey.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Southwest just placed a landmark multibillion-dollar order for 100 of Boeing’s smallest 737 Max plane

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8
A Southwest Boeing 737 Max 8.

  • Southwest Airlines just placed an order for 100 Boeing 737 Max 7 aircraft with options for 200 more.
  • The $10 billion deal is a victory for Boeing over Airbus and its A220 aircraft that was reportedly being considered.
  • The first 30 737 Max 7 aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2022.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Southwest Airlines has settled on the Boeing 737 Max 7 as the successor of its Boeing 737-700 fleet, announcing a finalized order with the manufacturer on Monday for 100 aircraft and options for 155 more.

The deal brings Southwest’s new Boeing 737 Max order total to 349 aircraft consisting of 200 of the smaller Max 7s and 149 of the larger Max 8s, some of which are already flying passengers. An additional 270 Max aircraft of either variety are also available to Southwest, on option, between 2021 and 2031.

Boeing’s current list prices value the 100 aircraft at around $10 billion. Airlines, however, rarely pay list price and Boeing has been known to discount Max aircraft as a result of the grounding.

Whatever Southwest did pay, however, Boeing can declare victory over Airbus as the European manufacturer’s A220 aircraft was reportedly being considered by Southwest to be the replacement aircraft. Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways had alternatively chosen the Airbus aircraft, which boasts similar characteristics and cost savings when compared to the Max 7.

But Southwest’s decision comes as no surprise since the 737 Max 7 is the next-generation variant of the 737-700 that it’s replacing at Southwest and the airline doesn’t have to worry about inducting another manufacturer’s aircraft into its already streamlined fleet. Pilots already flying the 737 and 737 Max can fly the Max 7 with very little additional training and the same goes for mechanics tasked with servicing the fleet.

“This cost-effective order book with Boeing allows the company to maintain the operational efficiencies of an all-Boeing 737 fleet to support its low-cost, point-to-point route network,” Southwest said in a statement.

Southwest resumed flying the Boeing 737 Max on March 11 after an absence of nearly two years following the aircraft’s March 2019 grounding. By the end of April, as many as 261 Southwest Max flights will be flown daily, according to Cirium data.

The smaller Boeing 737 Max 7 has yet to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as of mid-March, according to Reuters, a process delayed due to the aircraft’s grounding. Boeing had initially planned to certify the aircraft in 2019 after its first flight in 2018.

Read More: The 16 most outrageous things Boeing employees said about the company, 737 Max program, and each other in released internal emails

But FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, a former airline pilot, personally flew the aircraft during the recertification trials for the Max following its March 2019 grounding. Southwest is slated to be the first airline to fly the Max 7 with the first delivery scheduled for 2022 after its certification.

The Max 7 can seat as many as 172 passengers, according to Boeing, while flying the furthest of any Max variant thanks to its smaller size. Any route in Southwest’s current network can be flown by the Max 7 and new ones can be forged.

With a range of 3,850 nautical miles, city pairs like Denver-Honolulu, Boston-Anchorage, and even New York-London are possible should Southwest want to stretch the aircraft’s legs. The competing Airbus A220-300 boasts only a 3,400 nautical mile range and maximum seating of 160 passengers, according to Airbus.

Southwest will end 2020 with 729 aircraft, 68 of which are Boeing 737 Max 8s.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Southwest just added dozens of new leisure routes across the US in a major bid to get travelers back in the skies this summer – here’s the full list

Southwest Airlines 737
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737.

  • Southwest Airlines is adding 31 new routes to its network this spring and summer.
  • Austin, Texas and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina are the focus of the expansions.
  • Additional non-stop routes are being added between secondary cities and vacation destinations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Southwest Airlines is going all-in on the summer of vaccinated travel.

A countrywide expansion is seeing 31 new routes added to the airline’s already-sprawling leisure network with the hopes of getting more travelers to ditch road trips and get back in the skies this summer. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a major focus of the expansion and is getting its first routes since Southwest announced service to the beach town in early March.

Austin, Texas, is also in Southwest’s crosshairs with seven new routes to keep up with expanding competition. The tech boomtown has most recently been the target of American Airlines, which recently announced 10 new and expanding routes from Austin.

Read More: These 9 firms pay Austin-based software engineers upwards of $250,000 – and they’re hiring. Here are salaries and job postings at Google, Apple, Dell, and more.

But travelers don’t have to live in or frequent Austin and Myrtle Beach to get in on the action as Southwest is adding new point-to-point routes between secondary cities and popular vacation spots.

Returning Southwest flyers will also notice the airline has brought back some of its pre-pandemic amenities. Passengers now board aircraft in groups of 30 instead of groups of 10 and soft drinks including Coke, Diet Coke, and 7UP are now being served in addition to ice water during the in-flight service.

Here’s where Southwest Airlines is flying in 2021.

Between Myrtle Beach and Baltimore

baltimore maryland
Baltimore, Maryland.

Flights between Myrtle Beach and Baltimore launch on May 23 with as many as three daily flights. Southwest’s only competition on the route will be from ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines.

Between Myrtle Beach and Chicago

chicago illinois
Chicago, Illinois.

Flights between Myrtle Beach and Chicago launch on May 23 with one daily flight to Chicago’s Midway International Airport. Southwest’s competition on the route will be from Spirit, United Airlines, and American Airlines, all three of which connect Myrtle Beach to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Between Myrtle Beach and Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville
Nashville, Tennessee.

Flights between Myrtle Beach and Nashville launch on May 23 with two daily flights. Southwest will have no direct competition on the route.

Between Myrtle Beach and Dallas

dallas
Dallas, Texas.

Flights between Myrtle Beach and Dallas launch on May 29 with one round-trip flight operating only on Saturdays, utilizing Dallas Love Field. Southwest’s only competition on the route will be from American Airlines, which connects Myrtle Beach with Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Between Myrtle Beach and Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Flights between Myrtle Beach and Pittsburgh launch on May 29 with one round-trip flight operating only on Saturdays. Southwest’s only competition on the route will be from ultra-low-cost carriers Spirit and Allegiant Air.

Between Myrtle Beach and Atlanta

Atlanta Georgia skyline
Atlanta, Georgia.

Flights between Myrtle Beach and Atlanta launch on June 6 with one daily flight. Southwest’s only competition on the route will be from Delta Air Lines, Atlanta’s hometown airline that offers as many as five daily flights to Myrtle Beach.

Between Myrtle Beach and Columbus, Ohio

columbus ohio
Columbus, Ohio.

Flights between Myrtle Beach and Columbus, Ohio, launch on June 6 with one daily flight. Southwest’s only competition on the route will be from Spirit, which offers three-times-weekly service between the two cities.

Between Myrtle Beach and Indianapolis

indianapolis indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana.

Flights between Myrtle Beach and Indianapolis launch on June 6 with five-weekly flights on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Southwest’s only competition on the route will be from Allegiant, which offers twice-weekly service between the two cities.

Between Myrtle Beach and Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri.

Flights between Myrtle Beach and Kansas City, Missouri, launch on June 6 with twice-weekly service on Saturdays and Sundays. Southwest’s only competition on the route will be from Spirit, which offers three-times-weekly service between the two cities.

Between Myrtle Beach and St. Louis

st. louis missouri
St. Louis, Missouri.

Flights between Myrtle Beach and St. Louis launch on June 6 with twice-weekly service on Saturdays and Sundays. Southwest’s only competition on the route will surprisingly be from United, which will offer three-times-weekly service between the two cities on May 28.

Between Austin and Sacramento, California

sacramento
Sacramento, California.

Flights between Austin and Sacramento, California, launch on May 9 with one daily flight. Southwest will have no direct competition on the route.

Between Austin and Burbank, California

ABC Burbank California
Burbank, California.

Flights between Austin and Burbank, California, launch on June 6 with one daily flight. Southwest will have no direct competition on the route.

Between Austin and Miami

Miami, Florida
Miami, Florida.

Flights between Austin and Miami launch on June 6 with one daily flight. Southwest’s only competition on the route will be from American, which offers as many as four daily flights on the route.

Miami has been experiencing an increase in visitors and new residents during the pandemic as Florida has remained largely open since last spring. Southwest began service to Miami International Airport in November, which Insider experienced on a recent flight.

Between Austin and Minneapolis

minneapolis minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Flights between Austin and Minneapolis launch on June 6 with one daily flight. Southwest’s competition on the route will be from Delta, which offers as many as three daily flights on the route, and ultra-low-cost carrier Sun Country Airlines, Minneapolis’ hometown airline.

Between Austin and Orange County, California

newport beach
Newport Beach, California.

Flights between Austin and Orange County, California, launch on June 6 with one daily flight. Southwest will have no direct competition on the route.

Between Austin and Salt Lake City

salt lake city utah
Salt Lake City, Utah.

Flights between Austin and Salt Lake City launch on June 6 with one daily flight. Southwest’s competition on the route will be from Delta, which offers as many as three daily flights on the route and connections across its intercontinental network.

Between Austin and Destin, Florida

Destin, Florida
Destin, Florida.

Flights between Austin and Destin, Florida, launch on June 6 with twice-weekly service on Saturdays and Sundays. Southwest’s competition on the route will be from American, which added Saturday-only Destin service in its most recent route expansion from Austin, and Allegiant, which offers twice-weekly service starting May 28.

Between Denver and Richmond, Virginia

richmond virginia
Richmond, Virginia.

Flights between Denver and Richmond, Virginia, launch on May 9 with one daily flight. Southwest’s competition on the route will be from United, which offers daily flights between the two cities.

Between Las Vegas and Palm Springs, California

palm springs
Palm Springs, California.

Flights between Las Vegas and Palm Springs, California, launch on May 9 with one daily flight. Southwest will have no direct competition on the route.

Between St. Louis and Miami

miami beach
Miami, Florida.

Flights between St. Louis and Miami launch on May 9 with daily service. Southwest’s only competition on the route will be from American, which also offers daily flights between the two cities.

Between Nashville and Long Island, New York

Montauk Point, Long Island, New York
Montauk, New York.

Flights between Nashville and Long Island, New York, launch on June 6 with daily service. Southwest will have no direct competition on the route.

Between Chicago and Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine

Flights between Chicago and Portland, Maine, launch on June 6 with daily service. Southwest’s competition on the route will be from United and American, both of which offer daily flights from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Between Dallas and Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman
Bozeman, Montana.

Flights between Dallas and Bozeman, Montana, launch on June 6 with twice-weekly flights operating on Saturdays and Sundays. Southwest’s only competition on the route will be from American, which offers daily flights to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Between Phoenix and Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman, Montana
Bozeman, Montana.

Flights between Phoenix and Bozeman, Montana, launch on June 6 with twice-weekly flights operating on Saturdays and Sundays. Southwest’s only competition on the route will be from American, which offers daily flights.

Between Chicago and Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman, Montana
Bozeman, Montana.

Flights between Chicago and Bozeman, Montana, launch on June 6 with twice-weekly flights operating on Saturdays and Sundays. Southwest’s competition on the route will be from United and American, which offer daily flights to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Between Kansas City, Missouri, and Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston south carolina
Bozeman, Montana.

Flights between Kansas City and Charleston launch on June 12 with one round-trip flight operating only on Saturdays. Southwest will have no direct competition on the route.

Between Dallas and Sarasota, Florida

Siesta Key beach at Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota, Florida.

Flights between Dallas and Sarasota launch on June 12 with one round-trip flight operating only on Saturdays, utilizing Dallas Love Field. Southwest’s only competition on the route will be from American, which offers daily flights between the two cities from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Between Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Sarasota, Florida

Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota, Florida.

Flights between Grand Rapids and Sarasota launch on June 12 with one round-trip flight operating only on Saturdays. Southwest’s only competition on the route will be from Allegiant, which offers twice-weekly flights between the two cities.

Between Milwaukee and Destin, Florida

destin florida
Destin, Florida.

Flights between Milwaukee and Destin launch on June 12 with one round-trip flight operating only on Saturdays. Southwest will have no direct competition on the route.

Between Salt Lake City and Tampa, Florida

Tampa, Florida
Tampa, Florida.

Flights between Salt Lake City and Tampa launch on June 12 with one round-trip flight operating only on Saturdays. Southwest’s competition on the route will be from Delta, which offers daily flights between the two cities.

Between Las Vegas and Chicago

Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada.

Flights between Las Vegas and Chicago launch on May 9 with four-times-weekly flights on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Southwest will have no shortage of competition on the route including American, United, Spirit, and Frontier.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Southwest Airlines just resumed Boeing 737 Max flights and may go all-in with a reported order for ‘dozens’ of new jets

Southwest Boeing 737 Max
Southwest Airlines’ grounded Boeing 737 Max fleet.

  • Southwest Airlines resumed flights with the Boeing 737 Max on Thursday.
  • The day has 32 departures planned to 15 different cities in the strongest Max resumption of any US airline.
  • Southwest is reportedly nearing a deal for “dozens” of new Boeing 737 Max 7 jets, Reuters reported.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Southwest Airlines is all in on the Boeing 737 Max.

Passenger flights on the aircraft for the Dallas-based carrier resumed on Thursday in the latest milestone for Boeing’s infamous jet. The first four flights departed from cities across the US at 8 a.m. Dallas time, just two days short of the two-year anniversary of the Federal Aviation Administration’s order to ground the aircraft on the heels of a fatal Max crash in Ethiopia.

Southwest started the day strong with 32 flights planned to 15 cities in an opening salvo unrivaled by any of its competitors in their Max debuts. American Airlines, for example, started with just two daily departures and United Airlines started with 24. Alaska Airlines, with only one aircraft in its fleet, started with four departures on its first day.

But Southwest has also waited the longest to get the Max back in the air, a surprising choice considering the low-cost carrier had the largest pre-grounding fleet of 34-strong Max aircraft.

The first flights are the culmination of over 200 proving flights that the airline has performed with the Max since its November ungrounding as part of its return to service. Southwest pilots flying the Max are also now required to undergo training in a 737 Max simulator and classroom setting, which was not required before the grounding.

“To be clear, I have the utmost confidence in our ability to safely operate the Boeing 737 MAX 8,” CEO Gary Kelly said in a letter to customers. Kelly was aboard one of the proving flights, describing it as “quiet and smooth.”

The same 15 cities are slated to see the Max in March, per current Cirium data, including Atlanta; Fort Myers, Florida; Baltimore; New Orleans; Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; Denver; Orlando, Florida; Chicago; Houston, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; Salt Lake City; Las Vegas; San Antonio, Texas; and Portland, Oregon. After a month, however, the Max will quickly grow in the US with Southwest planning 252 daily departures starting April 12, according to Cirium.

Hawaii is a likely destination for the Max in the future as travelers flock to the islands for a tropical reprieve amid the pandemic. Southwest’s pre-grounding schedule shows that the airline considers the Max to be truly interchangeable with its current fleet and will fly both the longest and shortest flights in the airline’s route map.

Travelers still uncertain about flying on the Max can opt to switch flights free of charge, a policy adopted by all four US airlines operating the aircraft.

A massive new Boeing 737 Max order

March 10, a date that was slated to commemorate the loss of life on Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 in 2019, became a hopeful day for Boeing as reports indicated Southwest was nearing a deal to buy more Max aircraft from the manufacturer, Reuters reported.

Southwest is eyeing the 737 Max 7, the smallest aircraft in the Max family and one that’s yet to enter commercial service with any airline. If the order comes to fruition, the Max 7 aircraft will gradually replace the 737-700 Next Generation aircraft in Southwest’s fleet.

Boeing and Southwest declined to comment on the deal.

Southwest had driven a hard bargain to secure a favorable deal, even suggesting it might consider taking on the Airbus A220, the smallest aircraft in the European plane maker’s lineup. The order for “dozens” of Max jets is reported to be in the billions, with the list price of $99.7 million per jet, and would put another high-profile order between Boeing and the Max grounding.

The Max 7 could fly any of Southwest’s current routes, including those to Hawaii, thanks to its superior range. Its cost-saving economics combined with commonality with the larger Boeing fleet means Southwest can easily swap the aircraft in on underperforming flights to minimize losses, which may be critical if aviation’s recovery from the pandemic is protracted.

“I would not hesitate for a second to put my wife, daughters, and sons-in-law, and granddaughters onboard the plane,” Kelly said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Southwest Airlines just announced 3 brand-new destinations in a continued low-cost leisure route expansion

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737.

  • Southwest Airlines is adding three new destinations to its route map in 2021.
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Bellingham, Washington; and Eugene, Oregon are slated to see new flights.
  • Routes from each airport are still unknown but the first flights plan to launch by the summer. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Southwest Airlines on Monday announced plans to serve three new destinations across the US later this year.

The low-cost carrier will soon serve Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Bellingham, Washington; and Eugene, Oregon in yet another pandemic-era expansion that follows the addition of Bozeman, Montana and Destin, Florida announced last month. 

Myrtle Beach will be the first city to see new flights, with CEO Gary Kelly saying in a statement that the destination aims to serve summer travelers and golfers, in particular. Golf bags count as one of the two complimentary bags that Southwest flyers can check, with the airline coining “golf bags fly free” as a play on one of its classic slogans, “bags fly free.”

The coastal Carolinian city adds to Southwest’s existing chain of destinations on the southeast Atlantic shoreline. Savannah, Georgia and Miami were was added to Southwest’s network in 2020 and the Myrtle Beach addition gives the carrier coverage at nearly every major airport on the Atlantic coast from South Carolina to south Florida. 

Bellingham, closer to Vancouver, Canada than Seattle, will then see flight in the second half of 2021 as it serves a cross-border market. Canadians frequently drive across the US border to catch flights to save on the taxes levied on international flights by the US and Canadian governments. 

“Following the reopening of the Canadian border, we expect a return of the value-minded travelers who already drive to this alternative airport to escape high fares and taxes-and that’s very, very typical for Southwest destinations,” Kelly said.

The US-Canada border is currently closed for non-essential travel, a pandemic-era policy nearing its one-year anniversary, but it may be reopened by the time Southwest starts service. US and Canadian officials renew the policy on a monthly basis and the accelerated vaccine rollout in the US may encourage reopening talks. 

Southwest joins the likes of Washington state’s hometown airline Alaska Airlines and ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant Air in serving Bellingham. 

Eugene will only be Southwest’s second destination in the Beaver State behind Portland, surrounded by national forests and within driving distance from Oregon’s Pacific coast and Crater Lake National Park. Southwest won’t be alone in the city as American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Alaska, and Allegiant serve Eugene from cities around the US. 

Flights to Eugene are also slated for the second half of 2021. 

Routes have not yet been announced to any of the new cities but Southwest will likely offer service to nearby bases that offer connections across the country. For Bellingham and Eugene, that likely means flights to Denver, Dallas, Las Vegas, or Phoenix while Myrtle Beach might see service to Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, or Nashville, Tennessee. 

All routes will be flown by the airline’s Boeing 737 aircraft and will likely see the Boeing 737 Max. Southwest plans to resume flying the Max on March 11, the last airline in the US to do so behind American Airlines, United Airlines, and Alaska Airlines.

Two existing destinations – Steamboat Springs and Telluride in Colorado – will also have their seasonal flights extended through the summer. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Southwest Airlines has added new service to 2 hot vacation destinations ahead of the potential summer travel boom

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airline.

  • Southwest Airlines will begin offering new services to Florida and Montana.
  • This includes Florida’s Destin-Fort Walton Beach and Montana’s Bozeman Yellowstone airports.
  • Southwest has been drastically expanding its flight services since last year.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Southwest Airlines will begin offering flights to Florida’s Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport and Montana’s Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in May ahead of the potential summer travel boom.

Travel, especially by air, dropped significantly in 2020 as COVID-19 first began taking its hold on the US. But now, the travel and hospitality industry is hoping that pent-up demand and the continuing vaccine rollout will lead to a big spike in travel this summer. 

As a result, companies are gearing up for this potential boom, including Southwest Airlines. In the last year, Southwest has dramatically expanded its flight offerings with new services to locations like Palm Springs, California, Cozumel, Mexico, and Miami.

Now, the airline has added additional flights to two travel hotspots: Florida and Bozeman, Montana.

Bozeman, Montana – known as “Boz Angeles” – has become a hot destination, especially for wealthier travelers looking to trade city life for a break in nature. Bozeman also been named one of the fastest-growing cities in the US and offers close access to hotspots like Yellowstone National Park. 

This will be Southwest Airline’s first destination in Montana. Flights to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport will take off from airports in Denver and Las Vegas starting at $40 beginning May 27.

On the opposite end of the climate spectrum, Florida has also emerged as a top travel destination during the COVID-19 pandemic due to its warm weather and more relaxed restrictions. Southwest already flies to 10 other airports in Florida but decided to expand its offerings in the state for “winter-weary families” looking to get away to warm destinations, Andrew Watterson, Southwest Airlines’ executive vice president and chief commercial officer, said in the press release.

Direct Southwest flights to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport can be taken starting May 6 from these four airports: Dallas Love Field, Baltimore/Washington, Nashville, and Chicago Midway, the latter starting June 6. These flights will start at $70.

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Cancellation policies for the 4 major airlines show it’s almost impossible for customers to just get their money back

FILE PHOTO: Delta Airlines planes and a British Airways plane (2nd L) are pictured at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, on the day Delta CEO Ed Bastian told employees he was cutting 40% of capacity in the coming months, the largest in the airline's history, in addition to pursuing aid, in SeaTac, Washington, U.S. March 13, 2020.  REUTERS/Jason Redmond/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Delta Airlines planes and a British Airways plane are pictured at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Washington

  • Throughout 2020, travelers have been forced to cancel or reschedule trips due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Most airlines allow customers to rebook or cancel, but it can be difficult to get a monetary refund. 
  • Here’s what you can do if you have a flight with United, Delta, American, or Southwest that you need to cancel.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

With US passports virtually useless and coronavirus cases spiking in various parts of the country, many Americans are postponing or canceling their travel plans.

A recent rise in coronavirus cases along with the discovery of a new strain means some travelers may continue to postpone or cancel their plans. And on December 16, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated travel guidelines for winter holidays, recommending “postponing travel and staying home, as this is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.”

While airlines have been more flexible than usual with allowing customers to change their reservations, the industry is losing billions of dollars as air travel remains disrupted. 

When it became clear that air travel was going to be on the decline for the foreseeable future, the Transportation Department said “any airline operating in the US, foreign or domestic,” had to refund tickets for flights the airline canceled and couldn’t offer an alternative without a “substantial” schedule change,” as reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Many airlines have placed the responsibility on consumers if they want to change their plans, but if fliers want a monetary refund it can be hard. 

Here’s a look at what the major US Airlines are doing in the case of cancelled plans. 

American 

Tickets that expired between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 can be used until December 31, 2021. The airline has dropped change fees for flights originating from North and South America. Basic Economy fares are still ineligible for change fees.

Customers can change their flight once, but additional fees may apply when rebooking. Destination changes are allowed. 

If a customer wants to cancel their trip, the value of the ticket will be applied to a later date. There is no outright option for customers to get their money back when they cancel online.

American no longer blocks middle seats.

Delta 

Customers can modify their trips, “including any flights purchased before April 17, 2020, departing March 2020 through March 2021 and all tickets purchased March 1, 2020 through March 30, 2021.” The airline has dropped change fees for all flights originating from North America. Destination changes are allowed. 

Cancellations are allowed on Delta, and the value of the ticket may be applied to a new reservation up to one year from the original purchase. Basic Economy tickets are not eligible for refunds. 

Delta will continue to block off middle seats until the end of March. 

Southwest

If a customer using a non-refundable ticket cancels, their funds will be valid until September 7, 2022. Once a customer rebooks the ticket, it will expire 12 months after purchase, following Southwest’s traditional booking rules. 

Southwest does offer refunds via the original form of payment, but only on Business Select or Anytime tickets. 

Southwest no longer blocks middle seats.

United 

United does allow passengers to change or cancel their flights. Tickets issued between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 are eligible for a flight change of equal or lesser value without a fee change. The same rules apply to any canceled flights, with customers receiving credits for use at a later date. The airline has also dropped all change fees – including Basic Economy fares – for flights originating from the US.

In the event that the new booking costs more than the old one, the customer will have to pay the difference. 

United, like American and Southwest, has resumed the sale of middle seats. 

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The FAA ignored safety issues ahead of deadly crashes, cozied up with companies it was supposed to regulate, and retaliated against whistleblowers, according to an explosive congressional investigation

FILE PHOTO: A number of grounded Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are shown parked at Victorville Airport in Victorville, California, U.S., March 26, 2019.  REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo
A number of grounded Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are shown parked at Victorville Airport in Victorville, California

  • An explosive congressional report released on Friday found “significant lapses in aviation safety oversight and failed leadership” at the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • The report determined that the agency repeatedly ignored safety warnings ahead of fatal crashes, was cozy with the companies it was supposed to regulate, and retaliated against whistleblowers who raised concerns.
  • It also said the FAA and Boeing improperly influenced tests meant to determine if 737 MAX aircraft were safe to fly again, and that the FAA let Southwest Airlines put “millions of passengers at potential risk” by not knowing if planes were safe.
  • The report summarizes the findings of a nearly two-year-long Senate investigation prompted by two fatal crashes involving Boeing 737 MAX planes, which the FAA cleared to fly again last month.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In April 2019, following two deadly crashes involving Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation opened an investigation into the incidents.

On Friday, 20 months later, the committee released its findings in a scathing report that blamed the Federal Aviation Administration for repeatedly falling short on its regulatory duties, with regards to Boeing as well as the industry more broadly.

“Our findings are troubling,” Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi who chairs the committee, said in a press release.

“The report details a number of significant examples of lapses in aviation safety oversight and failed leadership in the FAA. It is clear that the agency requires consistent oversight to ensure their work to protect the flying public is executed fully and correctly,” Sen. Wicker said.

As part of its investigation, the committee heard from more than 50 whistleblowers, interviewed FAA staff, and reviewed over 15,000 pages of documents.

A spokesperson for the FAA told Business Insider the agency had “just received” the report and is “carefully reviewing the document, which the Committee acknowledges contains a number of unsubstantiated allegations.”

“The FAA is committed to continuous advancement of aviation safety and improving our organization, processes, and culture,” the spokesperson said.

The report comes just weeks after the FAA cleared the 737 MAX to fly again.

“Boeing is committed to improving aviation safety, strengthening our safety culture, and rebuilding trust with our customers, regulators, and the flying public. We take seriously the Committee’s findings and will continue to review the report in full,” Boeing said in a statement, adding “we will never forget the lives lost on board.”

A spokesperson for Southwest told Business Insider the company was aware of the report and has “utilized many of these past references to improve our practices and oversight, further enhancing an already robust Safety Management System.”

“Southwest Airlines maintains a culture of compliance, recognizing the Safety of our operation as the most important thing we do,” the spokesperson said, adding: “We do not tolerate any relaxing of standards that govern ultimate Safety across our operation.”

A few of the major points from the report include:

  • During tests meant to determine if the 737 MAX was safe to fly again, Boeing “inappropriately influenced” flight simulation tests. 
  • FAA senior leadership “may have obstructed” a review of the crashes conducted by the Department of Transportation’s inspector general. (The FAA said it “conducted a thorough and deliberate review” along with international regulators and was “confident” that the safety issues that played a role in the crashes have been addressed.).
  • The FAA “repeatedly permitted Southwest Airlines to continue operating dozens of aircraft in an unknown airworthiness condition for several years. These flights put millions of passengers at potential risk.”
  • FAA leadership repeatedly overruled and undermined the agency’s frontline safety inspectors and ignored their warnings – and, in at least one case, the warning preceded a fatal crash.
  • Multiple whistleblowers alleged a culture of “coziness” between the FAA and Boeing as well as other companies within its regulatory scope.
  • The FAA provided “contradictory and misleading” information to congressional investigators, refused to answer more than half of its questions and refused to let them interview many of its staff.
  • The FAA “continues to retaliate against whistleblowers.”

Read the full report here »

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