The Transportation Department fined Southwest Airlines $150,000 on Wednesday, saying the Dallas-based carrier was not responding to consumer complaints in a "timely manner."
The DOT found that Southwest did not respond to a large number of disability-related complaints received from June 2011 through January 2012. There was a problem with the carrier's website and when responses were sent it did not contain information that the DOT requires, the agency said.
"When airlines receive complaints from passengers, we expect them to provide prompt responses that appropriately answer the specific complaints," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.
Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins said the carrier learned of a technical glitch that unintentionally rerouted customer complaints. Following the issue, Southwest put in safe-guards to ensure similar website errors would not occur in the future.
"In this situation, Southwest refunded the full ticket amount of every customer affected," Hawkins said.