Southwest’s Newest Routes to Mexico Hit a Regulatory Snag

Dec 10, 2016

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Over the last few years, Southwest has been steadily growing its international routes. For those with a Southwest Companion Pass, this means more options than ever for buy-one-get-one-free travel. But, if you booked flights on the airline’s newest international routes, you might want to check your flight status.

This past Sunday (December 4), Southwest launched new routes from Los Angeles (LAX) to Cancun (CUN), San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos (SJD) and Puerto Vallarta (PVR). By Wednesday, these flights had been cancelled — and they’ll remain cancelled through at least tomorrow.

Southwest's new route from LAX-PVR only lasted three flights before being cancelled. Image courtesy of FlightRadar24.
Southwest’s new route from LAX-PVR only lasted three flights before being cancelled. Image courtesy of FlightRadar24.

While the flights are only cancelled through Sunday, it doesn’t look like Southwest expects the issue to be magically resolved by Monday. The airline isn’t selling any further tickets on these routes until next Friday, December 16. The flights departing Monday-Thursday are still listed on Southwest’s reservation website, but are listed as unavailable:

Southwest flights from Monday-Thursday aren't cancelled, but you can't book them.
Southwest flights from Monday-Thursday aren’t cancelled, but you can’t book them.

Did you notice that part at the top of the page about government approval? Well, it seems that’s the cause of the cancellations. Southwest still hasn’t gotten formal approval from Mexico to operate these routes. Under a new US-Mexico treaty from August, these government approvals were supposed to become a historic relic for flights between the two countries. According to a State Department representative at the time of the announcement, “airlines on both sides of the border will be able to fly whatever routes they want as often as they want and set their own prices.” As Southwest is finding out the hard way, this isn’t quite the case yet.

Strangely, though, Southwest hasn’t made any announcements about these issues. Now in the third day of cancellations, there’s still nothing on Southwest’s homepage or Travel Advisory page about the cancellations or customers’ options for rebooking. However, according to the Dallas News, the airline is “reaching out to affected customers and working to reroute those wanting to continue their trips through its other international gateways in Houston, Denver and Orange County.”

Bottom Line

If you’re booked on flights between LA and Cancun (CUN), Los Cabos (SJD) or Puerto Vallarta (PVR) over the next few days, keep a close eye on your flights status. While Southwest is supposed to be reaching out to affected customers, you might want to be proactive and give the airline a call about your rerouting options. Hopefully Southwest, the US Department of Transportation and their Mexican counterparts can work out this situation quickly to avoid more cancellations.

Featured image courtesy of SkyCaptain86 via Getty Images.

H/T: Dallas News

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