For our trip the last week of September/first week of October, we flew on Southwest. Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never had an issue with Southwest before, and have always recommended them to everyone and anyone. They have a lot going for them… open seating, no baggage fees, kind and understanding employees, and have always touted themselves to be a family friendly airline, but also great for commuting business people.
For Saturday, September 27th, I mapped out our time table so we would be on time to our 7:20 AM flight. I packed everything I could the night before, and then woke up at 4:30 AM so I could get up, shower, dress, pack the last items that I needed to pack and set the suitcase in the hallway so Tony could take it downstairs and load it with the other suitcases. At 5:10 AM, I went in and woke William by nursing him. At 5:15 AM, my mom arrived so Tony could load her suitcase. At 5:35 AM, I walked downstairs carrying William. At 5:40 AM, we departed our home and arrived at the airport 20 minutes later. There we unloaded and waited in line to check our baggage, while Tony drove the car across the street to park it at my work for the week.
We made it through security, and arrived at our gate. All was well… and then, the gate attendant announced that our flight was delayed. We had our plane, we had our pilot, but we were missing our flight attendants. They claimed it was due to the Chicago security breach that had happened the prior morning. Yet, interestingly, every other Southwest flight in our terminal departed on time. Finally, our gate attendants “stole” 4 other flight attendants from another flight so we could take off, 1 hour and 43 minutes late.
As we boarded our plane, We checked with the gate attendant concerning our connecting flight in Las Vegas. We were concerned and suggested that because of the delay, perhaps we should re-book before we started our journey. They told us that our connection should be fine.
So, we landed at 9:40 AM in Terminal B, we were deplaned at 9:45, and then flat out ran, carrying our carry-ons (as well as me carrying the 40 pound toddler), to our connecting gate which was in Terminal C. We arrived there one minute after 3 other people who had deplaned ahead of us, only to see the gate retracting and our plane moving away from the gate. The pilot had decided to leave early.
The gate attendant said she had already re-booked us on the next flight, which departed at 5:15 PM. EIGHT HOURS LATER.
To add fuel to the fire, when I called Southwest’s customer service line from the airport that day, she told me that they had sold our seats to standby passengers for $512/seat and that the pilot was able to maintain his “on-time status.” Nice.
You know, given that there were only two nonstop flights out that day to our destination, and that the delay was not our fault, and that we did everything within our power to make our next flight, you would think that Southwest, maybe, instead of researching and booking us on the next flight, could have taken that time instead to arrange for a cart to meet us at our landing gate to take us and our luggage to the connecting gate? Or, I don’t know, maybe the pilot could have held the plane for 5 or 10 minutes, especially given that he departed early and actually ended up landing THIRTEEN WHOLE MINUTES EARLY at the destination?
So we spent 8+ hours sitting at the airport, with no food vouchers, no lounge area, nothing but the hard plastic chairs. To top it off, our 5:15 PM flight took off 15 minutes late… and we got to our final destination (once we were deplaned, got our luggage, got our rental car, made the drive) around 11:30 PM. Let me remind you we were traveling with a 2 year old, just to make things EXTRA interesting.
There were so many ways that Southwest could have made this situation “right,” and at every single turn, Southwest failed to do any of them. In all scenarios, Southwest failed us that day. I have written Southwest a letter, I’ll update once I get a response.
I have another post about our return flights, which was another doozy of a story and worthy of its own post.