Southwest Airlines plane

Think Southwest owes you some money? They just might. After examining Southwest’s customer complaints, the Department of Transportation announced on Tuesday that it will fine the budget carrier a whopping $200,000 for booting passengers off of oversold flights and failing to pay them on time. Southwest bumped 13,113 passengers from its planes this year, more than any other domestic carrier, and federal regulations outline some strict protocol for this practice: Each airline must first recruit volunteers to give up their tickets in exchange for compensation; afterwards, the airline gets to kick off ticketed passengers, but it must immediately provide written notification and monetary compensation (up to $800 for most passengers). For all the industry’s un-pleasantries, it’s comforting to know that airlines still can’t turn flyers away without coughing up some cash.

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