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Passengers who were on board Southwest Flight 1380, which had one fatality after its engine exploded on Tuesday, have received letters from the airline with a $5,000 check and $1,000 travel voucher enclosed.
The $5,000 is to help “cover any of your immediate financial needs,” the letter from Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly states. The letter, obtained by ABC 6 Philadelphia, also provided a hotline for passengers to help find their luggage or receive other assistance from the airline. “Please accept our sincere apologies for the circumstances surrounding Flight 1380,” it says. “As a tangible gesture of our heartfelt sincerity, we are also sending you a $1,000 voucher (in a separate email), which can be used for future travel.”
TPG reached out to Southwest for clarification, but only received the following statement: “Ours is a company and culture built on relationships. We can confirm the communication and gesture are authentic and heartfelt.” The airline spokesperson said Southwest would not be commenting beyond those two sentences.
Top aviation personal injury lawyer Tom Demetrio, who has represented high-profile clients like Dr. David Dao, previously told TPG that almost all of the passengers on board Flight 1380 would have a viable lawsuit against Southwest. “For the most part, these people will have a very real claim with respect to how this will play out in their individual lives,” he said. “Some people might not want to look at a plane again; some might not want to sit in a window seat again.”
Demetrio also said that Southwest’s liability will likely hinge on how often the carrier was performing maintenance checks on the metal in its engines, as the National Transportation Safety Board as cited metal fatigue of the engine’s fan blade as a preliminary cause of the explosion.
“What the NTSB is going to focus on is Boeing’s guidelines for when to do your metallurgical maintenance,” which it can do by examining Southwest’s maintenance records for the aircraft, he said. “NTSB already has those records, I bet.”
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