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Your Legal Rights After Southwest Airlines Meltdown [Dec 2022]

Updated January 16th 2023

4 min read

You can demand and receive $1,000 in compensation from Southwest for involuntarily being bumped from a flight. It's easy, as long as you say the right things in a demand letter.

Your Legal Rights After Southwest Airlines Meltdown [Dec 2022]

Your Legal Rights After Southwest Airlines Meltdown [Dec 2022]

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Kaylin Lo

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Unprecedented Airline Meltdown

Starting Dec 22, 2022, Southwest Airlines did a massive wave of flight cancellations during the winter storm and chaos that resulted from it.

If you were affected and had your flight canceled, significantly delayed, or lost baggage you might be wondering what you can do to try to get your money or bags back.

As of Dec 31, Southwest was still canceling more flights every day, and not responding to customers via their support online, by the phone, or in person.

If you were affected by this, here’s a quick guide on your legal rights and what you can do to get their attention.

First, use a clear and specific demand

Before you begin this process, it is essential to consider your specific expectations from the company.

Common demands include:

  • Lost or significantly delayed luggage - bill them for the lost
  • Canceled flight - bill them for the cost of the flight and the accommodation and rebooking you had to do because of them. You can claim 400% of your flight cost up to $1,550.
  • Overnight delayed flight - bill them for the cost of the hotel accommodations

Make sure to be precise and articulate when outlining what you are looking for. It’s important to be specific and make sure that your requests are achievable and realistic.

Going into the process with a long speech about how terrible the company is without making a clear and specific demand may not be beneficial and may lead to confusion over what you are actually requesting.

Make a free demand letter if you want to use popular pre-written demands that have worked for others.

It is important to be specific and to make sure that you communicate what you want in a way that is easy for the company to understand.

Send a physical demand letter to escalate

After you try all of their normal channels, it’s time to send a formal legal letter to Southwest. Sending a physical letter has several benefits such as:

  • Showing that you are serious about your demand
  • Making it difficult for the company to ignore or disregard your demand
  • Allowing you to track when the company received your letter

You’ll need to keep a copy and the tracking number as evidence for later.

Writing a formal demand letter to Southwest is a lot easier with our demand letter tool, which will also identify the registered agent and address you should use nearest to you. If you decide to do it yourself, make sure you look this up.

85% of people get a positive response

Physical letters sent to the right address go straight to the legal department. The legal department will then assess the contents of the letter and decide the best course of action to take. They will usually contact you in writing, by email, or sometimes by phone to resolve the dispute.

Sending a letter through Dispute has the additional benefit of our logo and letterhead, which is more convincing for a company to see you could actually take them to court. That’s why our 85% of our letters work without actually needing to file a lawsuit.

Remember that you can go to small claims court without a lawyer, but Southwest would have to spend $500+ per hour to defend itself with a lawyer. At that point, it's usually better to compensate you.

If you don't use our proven demand letter templates, follow some guidelines to write a professional demand letter.

Sue southwest airlines in small claims court

If you’re owed enough money, filing in court is worth your time. The reason for this is another 50% of cases are settled after being filed, before the actual court date.

As soon as you file, Southwest will have to file a response which costs them time and money. Additionally, it'll be hard for Southwest to explain why your case is invalid because they do owe you for canceling a contract.

It’s relatively easy to sue Southwest Airlines in small claims court in around 10 minutes using an online service, or you can do it yourself to save even more money. The easiest way to get more info is to search for the nearest small claims court and call them. They have court clerks who can help you understand how to file yourself.

People are already starting to sue

For years, people have been suing United Airlines or suing American Airlines for their poor customer service. Unfortunately, Southwest Airlines is joining that list now.

Dozens of reports have already emerged about people suing Southwest Airlines for their delays. Southwest has already been sued hundreds of times in 2023. If you're frustrated and ready to take control of your rights, you're in good hands. The easiest way to start is with a demand letter for Southwest Airlines.

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