National Consumers League urges Southwest Airlines to invest in consumer protection

December 27, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown,, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON DC. – The poor performance of domestic airlines, namely Southwest Airlines, over the holiday season is yet another call to action for reform to the air travel industry. The National Consumers League (NCL) strongly urges Southwest Airlines to take all actions necessary to make both consumers and its employees whole, as well as to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring in the future. Additionally, the federal government should not delay in implementing the number of pending regulations that would strengthen consumer protections in air travel, including a proposed rule that would require refunds for stranded travelers. 

Air carriers should function to alleviate consumer and employee issues, not exacerbate them. Reports of passengers unable to contact Southwest Airlines representatives to rebook cancelled flights or find lost baggage are distressing and emblematic of longstanding issues within the industry. Moreover, complaints from airline employees of outdated operations systems further disrupting service also highlight the lack of action taken to mitigate the issues faced by both consumers and workers over the holidays. 

NCL urges Southwest Airlines to issue refunds to affected consumers without delay. Additionally, Southwest Airlines should invest significantly in improving customer service capacity and updating operations technology.

The travel meltdowns that are occurring this holiday season are another reminder that we must reform the governmental policies surrounding air travel. NCL is pleased that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is looking into Southwest Airlines’ performance, especially as it is the sole governmental agency with oversight of air carriers. 

The DOT should act quickly to promulgate regulations that require refunds to consumers in the event of a significant delay or cancellation, alongside other pending rules. Additionally, the DOT should implement recommendations from consumer advocates and state attorneys general, including a proposal to require airlines to provide travelers accommodations for meals and overnight lodging when necessary.


About the National Consumers League (NCL)
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization.  Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad.  For more information, visit