Southwest Denies DOJ Is Investigating Them Directly

There has been plenty of talk that the Department of Justice could be investigating Southwest Airlines over the meltdown that the airline experienced during the holiday travel rush that happened in December.

Yet, the company’s CEO has denied that the DOJ is conducting an official investigation of the airline.

All airlines were affected last year by severe winter weather that happened right before Christmas of 2022. Southwest Airlines particularly struggled much more than the other airlines did to recover. The company had to cancel nearly 17,000 of its flights, which resulted in more than 2 million passengers being stranded.

Labor unions have said that the technology that Southwest Airlines uses to re-assign crews to airplanes ended up getting overwhelmed. Workers ended up having to be on hold for hours at a time while they were calling into the company’s headquarters to get instructions on what they were supposed to do.

In January, Pete Buttigieg, the Transportation Secretary said that Southwest Airlines would be held accountable for its holiday meltdown. He also announced that the Department of Transportation would investigate whether the company deceived its customers by potentially scheduling more flights than it knew it had the ability to handle realistically.

In April, Politico reported that the DOJ joined the DOT’s probe, which is still ongoing.

Speaking to WFAA recently, though, Bob Jordan, the CEO of Southwest Airlines, denied that had happened.

He said:

“It’s a headline. To date, there’s nothing from the DOJ. We’ll work with any government entity that we need to, but there’s nothing going on with the DOJ. Just the DOT.”

A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines responded to an inquiry from Newsweek by saying on Wednesday:

“We continue to cooperate with the Department of Transportation in its investigation; it remains our understanding that the DOT is taking the lead in this matter.

“We have not received any inquiries from the Department of Justice but remain ready to cooperate with all interested government agencies.”

This all follows more issues Southwest Airlines had last month, when the company’s planes across the country had to be grounded briefly due to what the company was calling “intermittent technology issues.”

A Southwest spokesperson said at the time that the company paused all of its flight activity temporarily “to work through data connection issues resulting from a firewall failure.”

Jordan told WFAA that “hiccups happen regularly” with the airline industry, but that he’s confident Southwest Airlines wouldn’t experience a repeat of what happened last holiday season. He added:

“I’m very confident that we have plans in place to make sure that that does not happen. And those plans will all be accomplished by winter of 2023.

“We’re positioning ourselves. There can’t be a recurrence of what happened in December. There cannot.”

The company said that one thing it would be doing is increasing the number of staff members it has on hand during any extreme weather, while also upgrading its customer phone and crew scheduling systems.