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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has fined Southwest Airlines $150,000 for late and incomplete responses to consumer complaints, it announced Wednesday.
The FAA found that due to an issue with its website, Southwest was unaware of a large number of disability- and consumer-related complaints filed between June 2011 and January 2012.
When Southwest did respond to the complaints, according the FAA, its replies were late, and did not contain information required by Department of Transportation rules.
According to the FAA report, the airline "concedes that its responses to the disability-related complaints that it received during that time period were dated outside of the [prescribed] timeframes."
In a statement sent to Business Insider, Southwest said the website glitch impacted a small number of passengers, and that airline employees "worked around the clock" to reply to each missed complaint, and that it put safeguards in place to avoid similar problems in the future.
The $150,000 penalty was decided on by the FAA and Southwest to avoid litigation. $35,000 is due within 30 days of the order being issued (and will be paid to the U.S. Treasury, via pay.gov).
The remaining $115,000 will be credited to Southwest, to be used to refund passengers whose complaints were not properly addressed.
In its statement, Southwest noted those refunds have already been issued.
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