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By The Way
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What to know about Southwest refunds, rebooking and lost luggage

How to get money back for a canceled flight, and other resources for travelers stranded by Southwest

(iStock/Washington Post Illustration)
6 min

The convergence of a massive winter storm, a swarm of holiday travelers and a major airline’s operational collapse has created travel chaos of epic proportions.

Southwest Airlines passengers suffered the worst of it, with the carrier drawing scrutiny from the Transportation Department for a meltdown that caused more than 15,000 canceled flights. The airline admitted to struggles with outdated scheduling systems, and an internal company memo highlighted a worker shortage in Denver.

On Thursday, after the airline canceled more than half its schedule again, Southwest said it planned to operate close to a normal schedule beginning Friday.

Holiday air travel this year is worse than in years past

Across the country, passengers attempting to fly Southwest either gave up on holiday reunions with out-of-town family or made drastic alternatives like driving through the night or paying premiums to rebook through other airlines.

The unluckiest among them were left waiting for hours (or days) with few answers on when or how they could resume their journeys — or where their luggage was waiting.

Here’s what you need to know if your Southwest flight was caught in the fray.