Stranded Newlyweds Say Southwest Airlines’ Refund Comes Up Short – NBC Chicago

Southwest Airlines continues to climb out of its holiday meltdown after canceling more than 16,000 flights and leaving passengers scrambling to find their lost luggage.

The company promised to reimburse “reasonable” expenses for grounded passengers, estimating in a recent Jan. 6 SEC filing a fourth quarter loss of as much of $825 million for the company.

Southwest told NBC 5 Investigates “anyone whose flight was cancelled is eligible to request a refund” for up to a year after the ticket was issued.

Newlyweds Marcus and Andrea Grasenick missed their honeymoon cruise in December after their Southwest Airlines flight was canceled and their checked bags were lost for almost two weeks. The couple filed for a refund but only received a fraction of their expenses. Both received 25,000 bonus points, worth $300.

“It’s completely out of our hands. It was not our fault that the system went down,” said Marcus Grasenick.

The newlyweds flew out of Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Christmas but got stuck in Nashville for two days after Southwest canceled their connecting flight, causing the couple to miss their honeymoon cruise.

The couple paid another airline to fly them home.

They requested $4,000 in refunds from Southwest. Andrea Grasenick received $746.66 in reimbursement payment.

“Being two teachers and being out of $4,000 for our trip, you know it would take us a year’s worth of working and overtime to make that back, and with a baby on the way, we just don’t have the funds to do another big trip,” said Marcus Grasenick.

The Department of Transportation said it is requiring Southwest to reimburse travelers not just for canceled flights but also hotels, meals and alternate transportation, which is what most airlines have committed to for controllable cancelations or significant delays.

Andrea Grasenick received an email saying that Southwest was refunding her $746.66, which covered their flights and their hotel and meals in Nashville.

“Anything beyond that, any loss of pay for work, or any other situations that would have covered what we were going through, they were not going to take care of that,” Marcus Grasenick said.

NBC 5 Investigates confirmed that is the Department of Transportation policy: “Airlines are not required to reimburse you for any trip costs affected by the cancelled flight, such as a prepaid hotel room, a cruise, a vacation, concert or other tickets, or lost wages.”

“I think after this situation, I think the DOT needs to really rethink their policies,“ said Marcus Grasenick.

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington promised to hold committee hearings about all the Southwest Airlines cancellations but no date has been set so far.

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