Beefing: Southwest Airlines Sucks

Southwest Airlines Contact Information
Two consecutive trips on Southwest — my primary conveyance between home and work — and I’ve been boned in Baltimore. First time was in June when the flight leaving Providence was hopelessly delayed by thunderstoms. I asked the gate geek if I would make my connection to Raleigh, and being told that I would I boarded the plane, only to land in Baltimore to find the Raleigh connection had departed five minutes before. Stranded in Baltimore, I went to the bank of telephones in the baggage area and started dialing for a room to spend the night. Hah. No one had rooms. So I went to the Southwest ticket counter where I was handed a green slip of paper with an 800 number on it. Some outsourced displaced persons service that also said there were no rooms. Okay, guess I was going to sleep on a bench, but I kept dialing and finally found a cancellation at 1 am, paid $150 for four hours use of a mattress and shower. I didn’t even expect Southwest to pony up for the pain in the neck. Weather is weather. But getting sympathy in the form of a green slip of paper that doesn’t work just sucks.

So there was that.

Now I sit at Baltimore, having deduced, on my own, that the connection to Providence was yet again delayed. First beef: Southwest’s mobile site for phone access only permits one to check in for a flight, not check status. So I went to the normal site, waited a few minutes for the thing to load, pecked my way through the menu on my Treo and found out the flight was seriously delayed. I immediately called home, alerted my son not to leave too soon to pick me up, and went to the flight monitors which only stated the flight was delayed.

Okay. Lots of passengers are eavesdropping on my conversation and start bumming out and dialing to warn their pickups that they too will be delayed. Second beef: Is there anyone at the gate making announcements? No. So I go to the ticket counter where a very bored guy confirms that indeed the flight is delayed. Finally, after he got tired of one individual after another asking him what was going on, he made an announcement, well after the original departure time.
Ticked off, I fired up the laptop, logged into Southwest.com and tried to send an email to them to essentially say, “Hey, would be kind if you warned passengers on a timely basis about delays so they can make plans, etc.” No serious rant, just a suggestion. Steven O’Grady makes the same.
And then I find this, my third beef:

E-mail Policy – Why We Don’t Accept E-mail

Call us traditional, but we elect to steer clear of the chat-style, respond-on-demand, quick casual format and focus on meaningful Customer dialogue. This is not because we don’t care. It’s because that style counters our commitment to Customer Service.

Our Customers deserve accurate, specific, personal, and professionally written answers, and it takes time to research, investigate, and compose a real business letter. We answer every letter we receive in the order it arrives, and we streamline in order to keep our costs low, our People productive, our operating efficiency high, and our responses warm and personal.”

Great, except the customer service line closed at 5 pm. Losers. So I go to their blog to vent my spleen and knock off a few hats and I find this under the rules of engagement, my fourth beef:

“One final disclaimer — the Southwest Blog is not the forum to address personal Customer Service issues. All of us have “day jobs,” and we simply don’t have the resources through this blog to resolve individual concerns. Even though this is not the forum, Southwest is eager to resolve your concerns. Our Customer Relations/Rapid Rewards folks want to assist you, and you can contact them by mail at Southwest Airlines, Customer Relations/Rapid Rewards, P.O. Box 36647, Dallas, Texas 75235-6647; by phone at (214) 792-4223; or by fax at (214) 792-5099. For reservations, please visit southwest.com or call our Reservations Center at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792).”

Okay, so no email beefs. No blog beefs (but I can submit a funny caption to their photo contest and read about the forthcoming Chili cookoff). Bottom line: pick up the phone (when we’re answering it) or lick a stamp. So progressive. This is one of the existential horrors of the travel life.

Just for grins I went to southwestsucks.com. They get bonus points for registering that domain:

Southwest Airlines strives to maintain a high level of Customer Service and is proud of its corporate reputation and responsiveness to its Customers. As part of that effort, Southwest wants to control the release of inaccurate and irresponsible information about the Company via the Internet. If you would like more information on Southwest, please go to www.southwest.com.”

So I’ll sound off here.

There isn’t a single airline except for JetBlue that at one point or another flipped me out into vows of “never again.” I was able to avoid United for a decade. I cheered when TWA died. I’ll suffer, but not in silence. And I’ll continue to fly on Southwest, the Greyhound of our times, wedged into the center seat with the wheeled baggage people, the babbling cell phone teenage girls, the angry salarymen and the Clampetts, figuring out their delays on my own.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Beefing: Southwest Airlines Sucks”

  1. I will make a very long story as short as possible.

    Boarded a Southwest flight from Las Vegas to Orlando the first week of September. My wife made the mistake of sitting in the last seat on the plane so that we could sit together. I made a comment to the flight attendnant that I didn’t care for their seating policies and preferred airlines that allowed pre-selection of seating. Right then she clearly decided to make my life miserable. First she said, in not so many words, that we were stupid for selecting the last seats as they were more cramped to begin with (my wife and I are not small people, not huge, but larger than average, go ahead and insert whatever smart ass fat insulting comment you care, thanks). Then, a truly huge man came down the aisle and insisted in sistting in the window seat next to my wife. We suggested he try a few rows up as the seats in our row were indeed more cramped, as the flight attendant pointed out to us. The flight attendant then chimed in that he could sit wherever he wanted to. Well, we all three could not sit together in that row, so she starts telling us one of us needs to move, so I said that I hated Southwest and their seating, so, she had a flight manager (or some such similar titled person) come remove us from the plane. Apparently, she had lied and said that I had cursed at her and threatened her to the pilot and asked that we be removed. I have never cursed at or threatened anyone, much less this stupid lady. So basically we were kicked off a flight and had to be put on a later flight, with a connection (first one was straight through), because the flight attendant was in a bad mood. The guy who escorted us off even said she was being hateful to him for no reason. This is easily the worst experience I have had flying. I will NEVER fly Southwest again, EVER!

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  2. southwest is full of nigtmare s constant delay s bull sh t and lies
    why r people so dumb and misinformed by southwest f–k up s
    i see why people made up this web site to complaint
    my plane was delayed 3 three hour s had to circle for another
    3 three hour s should of been home by 5pm / got home by 12am
    never again ,.southwest really suck

    ALL WAY S FLY ON ( A I R T R A N S ) NO DELAY S NO BULLSH-T
    NO LIE S ALL WAY S ON TIME FRIENDLY PEOPLE

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  3. I’ve been quietly boycotting Southwest Airlines since November 2008. Every other member of my party was in the A boarding group, while my boarding pass had a B on it. The gate agent would not let me join my family, but insisted on making an announcement so that any other passengers in the A group could board before I did. I’m not a B, for God’s sake, I’m a human being who wanted to walk onto an airplane with her husband, mother, and elderly father. I haven’t given Southwest Airlines another penny of my travel dollars since November 2008, and I never will.

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  4. Southwest is the worst thing to ever happen to the aviation industry. If Wal-Mart and Greyhound joined forces to form an airline, Southwest is exactly what comes to mind. Passengers are boarded like cattle, unassigned seating is a joke (what do you mean I don’t get to sit next to my mommy?), flying to outside airports like Love Field, Midway, and Hobby is BS, no agreements between ANY other carriers, all coach seating shows that even the most frequent fliers on Southwest will still and always get the same respect and treatment as any other $59 low fare paying coach passenger. And their newest thing…rapping? They are in for a shit storm if they have an accident and the FAA finds out that the safety briefing was rapped to the passengers.

    And people still want to fly this POS airline all because of the bag charges? Note to frequent fliers: ranking members on the real airlines don’t pay for bags either. Fly enough segments and not only are bags free, but on real airlines you also get priority access for boarding, are eligible for upgrades to first class (something Southwest has never heard of), access to airline lounges and clubs, and more. Not to mention that Southwest’s routes are a joke. Some instances require you to take 4 planes to get between cities that any other airline would only require two. They deserve to be called a regional airline. They only serve 40 somethin’ cities, where other airlines serve that many countries.

    RECAP: Southwest sucks!

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  5. My poor Mom’s flight was delayed in Florida. They arrived in Baltimore 20 minutes late to find out that their connecting flight was not held for a mere 20 minutes. Instead, my Mom had been on standby waiting for another flight. She was not able to get on the first one, is on standby for the second, and should be able to get on the third or fourth and last flight of the day.

    So instead of the original connecting flight having a mere 20 minute delay, my mother and the other passengers on her original flight who wish to continue on to NH will be delayed for 3.5 hours or more.

    Why does Southwest have a reputation for putting the customer first? I won’t take my children on Southwest and my Mom won’t fly it ever again. Go Jet Blue!! We have yet to have a problem with Jet Blue.

    As far as everyone who says we are whiners because you don’t expect service for an inexpensive flight, since when is over $300 one way inexpensive?

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  6. I have a secret for you, this is a good secret that has worked for me many times-
    I have to fly southwest airlines for my job.
    I am allergic to peanuts.
    Southwest refuses to accomodate me with peanuts by creating a peanut free zone.
    Show up, check in, make a stink about the allergy, throw litigation at them.
    They will quick as whistle give your money back.
    That is how to get your money back for a southwest flight, and they NEVER give refunds.
    Take your money and go get a real flight where they will help you with your peanut allergy.
    Get a nice flight where you have a seat. The corporate travel people will wonder how that happened…how you got stranded and dumped by the airline and mostly, how you got the money back because southworst never refunds.

    Believe me, this works. You have to be forceful. They might make you get a note that proves you are fit to fly. Throw some legal mumbo jumbo at them about privacy. Have a good fit. Make loud noises. Make them out to be the bad guy…they really are. Its easy to make a scene when you have an allergy.

    If they would get their stuff together about the peanuts, it might be a better airline, but I doubt it.

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  7. Two weeks ago I had a horrible experience with SWA at Dulles Airport. I won’t go into details but I will never fly SWA again.

    Horrific customer service, a gate agent with a major primma-donna attitude and a serious chip on his shoulder. Another gate agent apologized for his behavior.

    Other passengers were shocked and commented on the attitude and behavior of the gate agent.

    I am a high-mileage flyer and will never set foot on a Southwest Flight again. I will gladly fly through Dallas on American or Chicago on United and pay more for the privilege of being treated fairly than ever suggest, recommend or even consider flying Southwest Airlines.

    Southwest has fallen to the level of Spirit and AirTran (Value Jet).

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  8. Ah! 2 years later and nothing has changed. The Southwest Site Admins. still spout off the same drivel from a policy book. Not only are your flights cheap, but your attitude and your company is a bunch of cheap asses too.
    SOUTHWEST still sucks. Still won’t fly them.

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  9. Yup. Southwest has managed to become my own “never again” airline. For that matter, I intend to use what influence I have to guarantee that it will be our corporate “never again” airline. Idiotic attendants, crap customer service, shoddy baggage handling, dismissive practices, dismal loyalty program, even more dismal treatment of loyal customers…. As airlines go, Southwest is utter garbage. I’ve had challenges on other airlines (US Airways, don’t get me started), but Southwest is the clear favorite in the self-serving airline category. Fly them if you must, but only if you must.

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  10. Nobody has mentioned how SW fares have been climbing. Even tho I think SW is worthless, I do not discriminate between airlines; I fly whichever saves me money. But I haven’t flown SW in years because they simply haven’t been the cheapest. (I fly once or twice a month for work.) It’s strange, too, as in the last 2 years fuel costs are down and unemployment is up. SW fares rising too? F-that.

    All that crap advertising has made the outfit a “club” atmosphere, perceived as”fun” to fly, meaning the plans of those marketing majors on coke have fallen right into place: use the brand appeal to jack the fares, don’t pay the employees any more, and pack the pockets of the pissants higher-ups while they’re cutting “dispensable” jobs and charging the already-poor more to travel to see their families. Yay capitalism.

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  11. @Tina. im a flight attendant and we think its hilarious that passengers tell the pilots about rude flight attendants. Pilots don’t care. They’re not our supervisors and half of them are dumbasses. We deal with idiot after idiot all day long and by the time you get on the plane, honestly you’re just another idiot. The worst part of the job is having to cater to old people that can’t walk to the restroom on their own. Boohoo. take some personal responsibility. Its not a flight attendants job to wipe your granny’s ass. Our society is full of weak whiney people. Too bad Darwinism can’t apply to American society. We could thin the population by just letting nature run its course. You’re pathetic.

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  12. @John- Again, why do you people complain to the pilots about the flight attendant behavior???They have no authority over us whatsoever. If and when one of the pilots takes it upon his or herself to repremand a flight attendant, we merely get their ass in a sling with the chief pilot because its not their job to supervise us. If you’re worried about safety, why would you want a person thats supposed to be flying an airplane to have to worry with the behavior of an employee thats working in the cabin?? The majority of American travellers are idiots that whine, can’t follow instructions, or read signs. As a flight attendant, what I see on a daily basis makes me want to retreat from society. The United States is rapidly becoming a cess pool of spoiled morons that have to be led around and told every little move to make. Its so sad. America does not deserve the “Freedom to Fly”. When they made it so cheap to fly that all common people could afford it, the industry started going downhill. Its been Wal-Marted. Now flight attendants have to deal with poor white trash that want their granny’s ass wiped during flights, they want everything you can give them for free. here’s an idea. When you know you’re travelling, bring some food!! We’re tired of hearing your complaints about what we offer. Stop bitching about it being cold in the cabin. Do you go to a movie and ask them to turn the air conditioner off?? Be prepared!! Take responsibility. Half of our society couldn’t be dropped in the middle of a city park and be told they will have to survive for a week. BOOHOO!! “Where’s my bottled water and cell phone?” God,what a pathetic bunch of whiners this country has become. Grow a sack you guys.

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  13. Southwest is a trash airline. Trashy customers, trashy flight attendants, trashy planes.

    EVERY flight has a crying 2 year old with a TERRIBLE/trashy parent who does not know how to handle a crying child. Moreover these “kids” get to fly free.. Wonderful.

    The planes are old, and it’s only a matter of time before they all start falling out of the sky.

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  14. Lets dissect Samantha’s comments:
    “The level of hostility and the tone these complaints present is very interesting to me. I work with general public complaints and have concluded the following about difficult customers:”

    First she is dismissing customers that probably have legitimate complaints as “difficult”

    “– When a customer is upset, the story will be fabricated.”

    Really? I’m sure there are some unreasonable people that will make mountains out of molehills, but if something upsets me, the actual situation does the talking for me. I don’t have to fabricate a thing.

    “- When the customer is at fault, he will not admit it.”

    Depends on the customer. If I’m caught I will always say, “geez, I feel stupid. my fault, sorry”

    “Most importantly, if you’re hot tempered and you share your story with friends and family, they consider the source!”

    true, if they are truly hot tempered. but again, I think you are dismissing anyone who has gotten upset over a legit complaint as hot tempered, therefore having no reason to complain to others.

    “SOUTHWEST AIRLINES has it’s flaws just like any other airline.”

    Actually….there are not. To my knowledge, they are the only airline that now doesn’t allow you to reserve your seats at check in. this is highly inconvenient for families traveling with children as they do not, more accurately CANNOT be seperated.

    “They probably transport millions of people per month and receive commendation letters for the employees who DO go above and beyond their call of duty.”

    sure, for the people who travel alone or maybe with just one other person or not in a family. I’m sure the staff is top notch. but its their policies that are going to have people not wanting to come back.

    “My suggestion to Mr. Complainer”

    Once again, dismissive. I’m hoping you are no longer in customer service. I have been and I can tell you, you’re training has failed you.

    “Stop living in your, “It’s all about me, world” and understand that the next guy, is just as important as you.”

    When I pay good money for tickets, it IS all about me. As far as the next guy, you mean the guy that gets on the plane, sits in the middle as to discourage others from sitting next to him unless absolutely necessary, therefore forcing families to be split up on the plane. you mean THAT guy?

    “Honest, proactive, and loyal customers are by far “WINNERS” in any heated situation. They remain composed, professional, realistic and they document the sequence of events. They attempt to comply with what is asked”

    What you are talking about is an obedient customer that lets the airline call the shots when they have been royally treated like crap.
    Here is something to ponder. Maybe if they were treated right in THE FIRST PLACE, there wouldn’t be a problem. Yes, there still will be those that are unhappy no matte what. but they would be few and far between if the airline would have considered that in the first place.

    Why do you think there was a reality show highlighting the lousy service of the airline industry? remember the show Airline? People were told that the flight was overbooked and the tickets that the PAID for aren’t going to get them on the plane. And the service staff acted like they were unreasonable complainers. Much like you. Again, I hope you aren’t in the industry any longer.

    “This person, is by far the one whose name you’ll probably NEVER see on one of these blogs because you see, unlike you, he WON his battle and continues to fly SOUTHWEST AIRLINES!”

    Sorry, don’t think so. the person in question is more than likely a single flier without a family who has never been told they have to split up on the plane due to SW being the ONLY airline that doesn’t allow reserved seating, or that has never been told “sorry, you can’t board the plane because we overbooked. You’ll have to wait another 12 hours for the next flight.”

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  15. And Air Tran has been great!! Good rates. Can pick your seats and reserve them at check in.

    But now SW owns them. Great. The last of the competitively priced, reserve your seat airlines will now go away. Thanks SW for giving people what they DON’T want.

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  16. Some of you people have no clue. Some airlines really do suck, like United (I should know, I work for them). However, when a customer service agent tells you something, like “that’s just the way it is” or “I’m sorry, I can’t do anything about that”, they mean it. They probably want to, and it probably could be done, just not by them. They can ONLY do what the system allows them to, and the systems block a lot of things. The companies set up their systems so that we are forced to give piss poor service if we want to keep our job. Also, you can only check in 24 hours prior because those are the rules, its for security reasons (or so they say). Don’t kill the messenger, blame the airlines for creating a horrid monstrosity of a system that we have do deal with. Also, expect customer service at United to go downhill for a while (I know, who thought that was possible?) because we are going to an even older and more useless system. Did I mention that at smaller cities we have to do counter and ramp work in the same shifts? You run around like a chicken with your head cut off, sprinting back and forth, working yourself to death, all for what? $9.00 an hour, and we have to buy our own uniforms, OH! and our union dues… our union is the most useless peice of garbage that has ever exsisted in the realm of unions, and it costs me $58 a month! It does nothing for those of us who work hard and pull our own weight (and some other employees’ weight as well), it merely protects the losers around us who don’t give a crap. I will keep putting my job on the line bending the rules to try to help my customers, because I genuinely care about how I treat another human being. In the meantime, please don’t kill the messenger, some of us really put effort into helping you guys and every now and then a genuine “Thank You” would go a LONG way towards motivating us to continue to do so.

    P.S. I am writing this from my work computer, I’m done for the day and I have 4 hours of downtime until I head home. I could leave now, but I’m milking the company, since I am on the schedule.

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  17. Southwest Airlines Follies: My wife and I were charged $143 apiece for changing our return flight (#3917 LAS to LAX). That is a rip-off. When I expressed my angst the flummoxed ticket agent (LAS/CSA Naomi G. emp#16965) refused to complete transaction, and abandoned her post (position #20) leaving my wife and I stranded at the ticket counter for twenty minutes before I was able to get the attention of a supervisor to complete the transaction. Naomi just walked away and left position#20 unmanned. Naomi and her lack of courtesy and professionalism is a poor poster child for Southwest Airlines. And you call yourselves the “Luv airline.” Phooey.

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  18. Southwest Airlines cares nothing about people. They are nothing more than a flying trailer park. They lie, cheat, steal, and do anything necessary to continue to make a profit – regardless of the effect on their customers. Nothing they say they represent has anything to do with reality. Ironic they don’t accept email from their website, because their employees sure like to send emails out that are threatening and mean-spirited from their workplace. My husband and two children were stalked for years by their employee, who I complained about repeatedly and with no results. My husband is a well-known reporter. He is doing an expose on this outfit, three years in the making. It will make anyone who thinks of flying their broken down airline think twice about the “savings” for the “low priced” airfares (another lie they tell). You get what you pay for, including in the safety department. I wouldn’t trust them to fly a single hair from my head to another location. That’s how unreliable and unconcerned they are.

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