PHILADELPHIA — Southwest has sent a letter of apology, a $5,000 check and a $1,000 travel voucher to passengers who were on a flight that made an emergency landing in Philadelphia after an engine exploded.
"Please accept our deepest apologies," Chairman Gary Kelly wrote in a letter dated April 18, a day after the accident.
An engine on a Southwest jet exploded Tuesday while the plane was flying from New York to Dallas, and debris hit it, causing extensive damage. Banking executive Jennifer Riordan, 43, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was fatally injured when she was sucked partway through a shattered window, sending passengers scrambling to help her as the aircraft shook violently and went into a rapid descent.
"We value you as our customer and hope you will allow us another opportunity to restore your confidence in Southwest as the airline you can count on for your travel needs," Kelly wrote in his letter. "In this spirit, we are sending you a check in the amount of $5,000 to cover any of your immediate financial needs."
"As a tangible gesture of our heartfelt sincerity, we are also sending you a $1,000 travel voucher," he wrote.
Passenger Marty Martinez of Dallas said he has no immediate plan to cash the check. He wants to talk to a lawyer.
"I didn't feel any sort of sincerity in the email whatsoever, and the $6,000 total that they gave to each passenger I don't think comes even remotely close to the price that many of us will have to pay for a lifetime," he said Friday as he prepared to board a Southwest flight from New York.
Eric Zilbert of Davis, California, said he did not have a problem with the letter. He said he appreciated he would not have to file claim forms.
After checking with his attorney, he decided he would cash his check.
"I just wanted to make sure I didn't preclude anything by taking the voucher or the check," he said.
The plane was carrying 144 passengers. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the engine explosion.
A public memorial service for Riordan is set for Sunday in Albuquerque.