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 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 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 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”

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”

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  2. meridithl – Meridith Levinson is an award-winning writer and editor for a business and technology website. She lives in Arlington, VT.
    MeridithL says:

    I had a horrible Southwest experience last summer when I was flying back to Albany Airport from San Diego. I too went to Soutwest’s web site to lodge a complaint, only to find, like you, that they don’t accept feedback via e-mail. Since I was so p.o.’ed about the experience I had had with them, I wrote a letter expressing my dissatisfaction. Several months later, I finally received a mildly satisfying response.

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    Aviation Law says that the Airline has responsibility for
    the passenger’s lost luggage, so why is it that SWA can say they do not have to be responsible and deny my claim?

    It has become apparent that Southwest Airlines will say anything to avoid taking responsibility for my lost luggage and are refusing to acknowledge the fact that
    they lost my luggage.

    To state in their July 27, 2006, correspondence to me that I picked up my bag in San Diego 36 minutes after my plane landed is very disturbing to me and is COMPLETELY FALSE.

    The Southwest Agent, both in San Diego and in Dallas, is lying about the events that have taken place and Southwest Customer Service is perpetuating that lie. In fact, the Southwest Dallas baggage dept rep told me, on the phone, that Southwest was wrong about my picking up the bag and that the Agent closed out the wrong claim. FURTHER, the Agent told me that Agents close out the wrong claims quite often and moreover, it happens all the time, but not to worry because they would locate my bag. Customer Service Claims Agent Jennifer, Lost Baggage Dept in Dallas, also told me that the Agent closed out the wrong claim. These people are vile.

    I am outraged by Southwest’s responses to my attempts to resolve my claim. I am outraged that Southwest is basically calling me a liar and are insinuating that
    I have filed a false claim for lost baggage.

    Here are the facts:
    1. I have a claim ticket and I have no bag.
    2. My Mother is a witness that I checked the bag at the curb in Las Vegas and a witness to the fact that the bag did not come off the carousel in San Diego.
    3. My husband and my Mother are witnesses to the fact that there is no way I picked up the lost bag at San Diego Airport, because my husband picked me and my Mother up at the airport and drove us home. My home is 45 minutes from the airport. They are both witnesses as to where I was at all times on that evening.
    So, how could I have possibly picked up the bag within 36 minutes of my landing
    in San Diego!

    Does Southwest Airlines have my signature on any document that says I picked up the bag? NO!

    Why would Southwest Airlines mail me a claim form if they knew I picked up the bag? I never picked up my bag because they never found my bag, and that is why
    they sent me the claim form.

    I have reviewed Southwest’s Contract of Carriage and I followed the procedure for filing a claim for lost baggage. SWA tried to use the argument that my claim was without merit because other passengers with lost luggage called the 10 times a day and because I didn’t my claim is questionable. Their argument makes absolutely no sense at all. To constantly compare me to what other people do when they lose their luggage is absurd. A

    Another point SWA is using to deny my claim is because I checked a box on the claim form inaccurately when asked if had ever filed a claim with any other airline. I had filed a claim with America West in October 2005 for a lost bag but what does that have this claim! It has absolutely nothing to do with my claim to Southwest Airlines for losing my luggage. The inference that I have filed a false claim is insulting. I have receipts for most everying in my luggage; do you think SWA asked to see my receipts….NO! SWA has not located my bag and they will use any excuse they can to avoid responsiblity for my loss.

    I am appalled and disgusted with Southwest Airlines and the position SWA Customer Service people have taken with my claim, and I absolutely plan to pursue my claim and take further legal action.

  5. I will NEVER EVER fly Southwest again. At this very moment, if my company tells me to fly this crappy airline again I will quit – I am not exagerating. The service is terrible and the on-line check in is complete bull s***t. I arrived at the airport 3 hours early (still on east coast time and flying out of Vegas so I’d been up since 3:30 AM). only to find I pulled a “C” reservation. Three hours early and I get bleacher seats!!!!! Un f***ing believable.

    Then I try to get someone to do something about it and everyone I spoke with hands me the same canned answer: “that’s just the way it is.” That’s not the way it is – I know damn well that they can make exceptions and make room. But “that’s just the way it is” is the official company answer? Must be, because EVERYONE from Southwest is saying that to me. It’s obvoius they just don’t give a damn and have decided to treat their customers as cattle.

    I travel a lot and I use to be in the service industry so I know things can get overwhelming – I have complained about service exactly three times in my life – this being the third. The check-in got me ticked off, but the attitude I’ve encountered from every SW employee just pushed all the wrong buttons for me.

    As soom as I get back into the office the first thing I’m going to do is take a walk to the travel agents office and shove a Jet Blue brochure two feet up her wazoo.

  6. You learn to remind yourself to check-in online exactly 24 hours before your departure (no sooner, because for some reason won’t let you check-in any sooner than 24 hours before). The key is to score an A boarding pass and then stand in line at the head of the cattle chute so you can score the coveted “first class” seat in the emergency exit (the one with no seat in front of it.).

    A C pass is a ticket to a center seat.

    I don’t hate SouthWest. It’s the bus, only with wings. It gets you there and that’s what counts.

    JetBlue opens up direct service on my main route — Massachusetts to Raleigh, NC later next month. I am there, not so much because I like JetBlue (which I do), but because I need the non-stop to reduce the uncertainty factor imposed by SouthWest’s penchant for stops and plane changes.

  7. So, im stuck here in the airport waiting for a flight that has been delayed and delayed yet again. Not only that but my flight that was supposed to go to BWI was rerouted to Pheonix because of connecting passengers missing their potentional connections. So i was here 3 hours before my flight, and i find out that i might not even get to where im going tonight. And the worst part is no one is telling anyone anything. How hard is it to say ‘all individuals on a flight blah blah blah are okay and dont need to come to the desk’ theres no reason on for what is happennig and really its ruining my weekend. I’ve decided from now on to never fly with them again. Ill spend the real money and fly a real airline next time because frankly this is unbelievable. How can a real company operate like this. I understand the commitments and you cant blame weather but seriously just tell us whats up.

  8. Waah…have you flown any other airline??? It really sounds like you were all taken for a ride but consider this, where would we be without Southwest Airlines? Easy, the dinosour airlines such as United would rule the world handing out extremely poor service and filing for bankruptcy just in time for the federal government to bail them out. I have flown virtually every major carrier in the US and many of the the smaller subsidiaries (such as Skywest, Mesa, and Simmons). Southwest is by far the best airline. Just as any business has its weak points (including whatever business you’re in), Southwest has some bad employees and suffers delays. But this is far from the norm. The DOT Stats are a good indicator. Also the fact that Southwest is the most profitable airline without charging people an arm, leg and kidney leads me to believe that many many people are quite satisfied with the service. Moreover, try looking at how many airlines around the world have emerged based on Southwest Airlines’ business model. I.e. West Jet (Canada), Gol (Brazil), JetBlue (US), Ryanair (UK), EasyJet (UK), etc.

    If only people would get this passionate about the medical industry. Nothing like waiting hours at a time without explanation, paying out the nose, finding out that he/she botched your surgery or misdiagnosed your symptoms, and then the kicker, you were stuck in the waiting room because he/she was either at lunch or was with a drug representative (probably providing the lunch).

    Main Point: Be prepared for the unexpected. Baggage will occasionally be delayed or worst, lost; flights will be delayed for weather, mechanical problems, or security breaches; customer service may be lacking from time to time. Here’s what you do, look at the glass half-full, remain positive, keep calm, and if follow-up with Southwest Airlines’ HDQ is necessary, then do it by letter a couple days after you have time to think logicly.

  9. Jason,
    If I stuck to my vow never to fly again any airline that screwed me, I’d be walking. Southwest continues to get my business, as does every other airline from JetBlue to United to SAS. As long as they get me there in one piece, I am a happy camper. What set me off on SW last summer was simple omission on their part — lack of information and lack of a way to quickly point that out to them.

    I don’t write letters.

  10. I read a lot of these emails and TRULY UNDERSTAND everyone’s concerns. I actually work ground operations outside LOADING YOUR LUGGAGE on the planes for Southwest airlines. Bags that are so overweight that it takes two of us to lift it to a belt loader, then to have the ONE AND ONLY tag on the handle that falls off the 99 lb bag. WHY HAVEN’T traveling people learned to put their name and cell phone number I N S I D E the bag????? YES, INSIDE, TOO. Everyone has a carryon, black bag. How are we going to match up these bags?

    Now, the reason I’m writing is because I work at the Vegas station. And I just want to scream when I hear about passengers that checked their bags at the curbside, never to see the bags again. CURBSIDE. YES, CURBSIDE. NOW, PLEASE LISTEN TO ONE THING IF YOU HAVEN’T LISTENED TO ANYTHING ELSE. Curbside checkin (better known as SKYCAPS) are NOT SOUTHWEST EMPLOYEES. They are some contracted people that claim to help you so you can have the convenience, or something. If you are flying out of Vegas, the line INSIDE is just as long, but instead of 10 non-swa-employees checking you in, there’s 30 ACTUAL CUSTOMER SERVICE AGENTS who tag your bag, and you are in the air conditioning…wait time is shorter, and chances of seeing your bag at your final destination are MUCH BETTER. please remember, the name and a phone where you can be reached WHILE YOU ARE ON YOUR TRIP should go INSIDE your luggage.
    Don’t think you are doing yourself a favor, trying to sneak that 95 lb bag, shuffling a $20 bill to a skycap, as he “promises” to get it on, knowing that you’ll never see him again, and he never leaves that little area out front, and now he has your $20 and you have a broken promise and NO BAG. Each passenger can check up to 3 bags with us, so go ahead and make your cases lighter, put your name and cell number INSIDE, and check in with a real SWA person, and I can bet your experiences will be much more pleasant.

    I wouldn’t fly on anyone else. I’ve been doing this for 7 years.

  11. I’ve been depreciated by Southwest and feel like 35% less of a valued customer! On a recent trip to Baltimore my bag was “lost.” When I arrived in Baltimore for a three day business trip my bag was no where to be seen. I actually had a pretty good experience with the agents that took the claim; you have to believe they have one of the toughest jobs out there. Anyway I had to spend about two hundred dollars to get some business attire to complete my trip. There were too many restrictions (DING DING DING red flag) on how SWA would pay for those items so I just let it go. Well after many phone calls most of which started out with either “Now sir what color did you say that bag was again?” or “So your bag is still missing?” I realized I would never see that bag again. So Three days later I am on my way back home. Due to the missing bag and the extra items purchased I had to cram everything into my other bag. When I arrived at the airport to check in, my bag was overweight. I received absolutely no sympathy from the person at the counter or their supervisor. (Interesting side note: I was reading “how to win friends an influence people” at the time and tried my damndest to use all the tips, but of course “rules are rules.”)I was going to have to lighten the load or pay the fee. Ridiculous. So with a carry on bag ready to burst slung over my shoulder and a pair of shoes in the other hand I boarded my flight. Once home there were numerous hurdles and tons of “diligent searching time.” to getting a claim filed to replace my things. I filled out the form, which had been photocopied one to many times, with a reasonable figure of around 1200 dollars to replace those items lost, like the matching argyle sock, to the drying machine of the sky.
    To my naive surprise they sent me a check with the depreciated value of my list $845ish. I’m still to angry to look at it and quote the exact amount.
    I tried to contact the fellow who filed my claim in Dallas with no response, maybe his voice mail is on the fritz. I am absolutely sure that no matter what I do I will never get what I think will be a fair settlement. No matter who I talk to they will hide behind the “that’s just the way it is” or my favorite “that’s company policy.” response.
    The morale to my story is this: Where has the service in “customer service” gone? What is my value to Southwest as a customer? What happened to the days when a business would do everything they could to retain you as a customer, not because they want your money but because they want to do the right thing? I just don’t think I will every understand any justification for depreciating the items in the suitcase that they are liable for and lost.
    By the way I posted a shorter and nicer version of this on their blog and they actually put it up, of course no one responded.
    Read the article that this is in reference to if you really want to get your blood a boiling.

  12. I can’t stand Southwest. They basically refuse responsibility for lost or damaged luggage and this is a pattern. I won’t be flying Southwest anymore.

  13. I used to be a Southworst employee and in response to Krstine’s 7 years I have over 14 years with them and would have had close to 20 if i didn’t leave the second worst airline. I put that in here to let everyone know that senority is a big thing at Southworst for some reason even though the first year guy lifts the same bags as the 30 year guy. Miss Kristine works at SWA’s biggest and heaviest station and works her ass off, so she knows what she is talking about. Oh wait, excuse me the 30 year guy feels that he doesn’t have to lift the bags anymore even though that is his job. The ramp agents are treated like dirt so many of them have developed bad attitudes. It is an adverserial relationship. The guys and girls who actually work are asked to do more while the guys who don’t are left alone because the stupidvisors are afraid of them or consider it too much trouble to get them to work. This also causes tension among the agents who work and those who don’t. The last thing on many agents mind is wether your bag makes its flight or not. I am going to open a big can of worms with my next statement: Black agents don’t have to work. Southwest is so scared of racial issues that nothing is done to them when they do not. In Houston where I used to work there is a 30 year agent who sits in the breakroom and plays dominoes for 8 hours a day. When someone actually says something he says it is because he is black and the company drops it right away. You can just imagine the other agents feelings about this.
    Southworst managerial practices are ridiculous. If you know how to suck up then you will go far. It is not based on skill or knowledge but if you are a yes man. No people skills are required to move up. People who have no knowledge of what the ramp agents do or what they have to deal with are put in charge of them and in Houston especially it is a joke. Management in Houston sucks. I know because I have worked in multiple stations.
    SWA is no longer concerned with customer service. The new ceo is more worried about the bottom line and even has a “scoreboard” telling the employees how much money the company has made, spent on fuel, etc, and telling them how much harder they need to work to get to the point where HE wants the profit to be. It is never enough! No longer is the priority on baggage handling or on time performance much less customer service(fewest complaints per 1000 customers).
    Yes the Second Worst Airline does make money but I believe this is in spite of itself. No matter how the top heavy Southworst tries to screw it up it will continue to do so on the backs of its little people and to the detriment of customer service.

  14. southwest has lost BOTH of our bags – not curbside, but inside counter checkin by a Southwest employee – simple, neither were over weight, both had names, address and telephones on the inside and outside – both were going from Asutin to Las Vegas (hhhmmm….Las Vegas seems to have a record for this…coincidence?) Yet, the ONLY tracking they have in these two bags was us dropping them off. Over my dead body will I accept the statement that Southwest will not accept responsibility. If I had another choice – I would have taken it – I was forced to hand over my bags to supposed “responsible” employees – now I am at loss of over $2000 – this is UNNACCEPTABLE. Class action is apparently the only next step to help Southwest employees understand their jobs.

  15. You people are unbelievable. Everyone in this world is out to get you. The employees love to steal luggage. Delays are just for fun. Are you stupid and selfish and ignorant or what?
    Get over yourselves. Luggage gets lost. Flights get delayed. People have bad days because of people like you and your negative attitudes. If you don’t like Southwest there is no need to bitch about it. I can read for myself on their website which says the seating system is different than the norm. And their not responsible for lost luggage is also posted somewhere before you board that plane right? So take notes, you were fairly warned.
    I was actually doing research for my Principles of Management course when I came across this site. I can’t tell you how many articles I came across where people complained they couldn’t get the seats they wanted! Please if this is all you people have to worry about in life then you should be incredibly happy. Now stop your bitching and go spend some valuable time with your kids or families. Oh and is it not better that your flight be delayed then they send you up in the air as scheduled but the plane had a slight problem and boom down you go? I’d like to hear you complain then.

  16. You guys are all a bunch of whiny losers. Oh poor me Im too good to fly southwest, Im a primadonna who deserves to be treated better than the rest of these mortals. BOO HOO. Hey news flash, when you pay $39 for a flight, ya got no room to complain.

  17. …. But not too stupid to find a better alternative at a better price and that’s JetBlue. Have fun in the A-B-C cattle chutes while I get into my preassigned seat, watch some television and get served something more than a dozen peanuts, and in general get treated like a customer and not a piece of meat.

    You SouthWest apologists who seem to have just discovered this blog: tell SouthWest customer service to do something about how they communicate. I don’t expect caviar for $39 a flight, but I do expect to informed when the plane is late and I do expect a little more than a slip of #$#%$% paper with a phone number on it when I am facing spending the night on a #$%$%%^ bench in an airport because they couldn’t get to me my connection on their airline on time and wouldn’t show the decency of finding me a room for the night.

    The day JetBlue opened direct service to RDU was the day that true market forces started to teach SouthWest what reality is: competition is the only way to reform bad performance, not my bitching.

    And be advised, every person to join this comment thread has posted a legitimate email except for the people defending SouthWest. This makes me think you losers are astro-turfers and if I take the time to track your IP address down and can prove you are associated with SouthWest …..

    This post is ranked number nine on Google for the term “Southwest Sucks” — if I worked in customer service at SW I’d figure out that beefs like this are lightning rods for unhappy people and do something about it.

  18. Um, I have posted a legitimate email, and Southwest does let you know flight status through email, signs in airports and also text messages sent directly to your phone. Its your responsibility to look at these.

  19. Beth:
    Yes, they do send email updates. And pager updates.

    But signs in airports? No way! You mean those television things? And they update them on them a timely basis? Beth. Come out of your customer service defense mode and listen up, but begin by reading the post. That’s what ticked me off the first time. The monitors aren’t refreshed, at least not at BWI one evening last June. I went to their website, I got myself informed, I knew what was going on before their somnolent, apathetic gate agents did.

    It doesn’t matter anymore. October 24 was my last flight. I now fly direct on JetBlue for less money.

  20. I love the people that scream and holler and say, “I’ll never fly on them again,” and two weeks later, there they are, standing in the C boarding group, bitching because they arrived at the airport 1/2 hour before departure, with a late check on their bag, so they can complain yet again that SWA lost their luggage, when in actuality they paid a skycap $20 to get their oversized, overweight piece of junk luggage with the broken handle and missing a wheel (which later they’ll try to claim to get reimbursement for), all paid to a skycap WHO DOESN’T EVEN WORK FOR SWA, YET “promises” that the bag will be on that plane.

    yet… here they are again, flying on SWA… and talking about how great the other airlines are.

    Let’s face it. Southwest has been in business for over 35 years, still running the most competitive rates, and still being right up there with performance. No one makes you eat the “dozen peanuts”…uh, other airlines are charging for headphones, and beverages, and snacks. Don’t like the peanuts? BUY A $6.00 SANDWICH IN THE TERMINAL. SWA will give you a free soda or two.

    But delays….when it’s because of weather, everyone is delayed. not just swa. You think that the weather just causes SWA to sit and wait to fly and then everyone else is flying? so you want SWA to break the rules and fly just to get YOU there? Yeah, you’d be the first one complaining about how UNSAFE swa is if something happened.

    get a grip.

  21. My only problem is that when you fly southwest as much as I used to, there ought to be some benefit for it. Here’s what I mean: I have to reschedule a flight last minute, and I get stuck with a C ticket. Meanwhile, some random family of 4 all have A tickets. WTF?? I fly several times per week, they fly once per year and they receive the benefit. Now I’ve found some other carriers than southwest, eg, Continental CLE-BWI business first the SAME price as that rag southworst. In closing southwest sucks my left nut.


  23. Jeff – it isn’t an airline, it is the most undignified conveyance, aside from a donkey cart, ever invented.

    The big myth and load of BS that Southwest continues to spew is that by treating humans like dung, they keep prices low. WHAT A CROCK! I can find cheaper or equal fares on other carriers, and it is easier too, because the REAL airlines distribute via other channels on the web, not the useless, counter intuitive crap site Southwest runs.

    It shows how much Southwest cares about people, crew and passengers alike, when a flight is delayed because a starving F/A is in the terminal getting McDonalds becuase Southwest doesn’t board meals for them, even though they are working 11 hour days! So Southwests penny pinching ways have now starved their employees AND caused a flight to be late.

    As for the stupid comment about only flying if you make more than $250,000 a year, GET REAL. Prior to tragic creation of Southwest, people with less than the eq. to 250k were flying. Additionally, Southwest isn’t the power that brought flying to more people, the Airline Dergulation Act of 1978 did. Southwest brough abysmal flying to more people.

    To all of the people out there trying to bring dignity, civility and customer satisfaction to the airline business, Southwest is an afront!

  24. Response to Beth, Jeff, and whomever else was saying that those complaining about SW are ‘whiners’: sure, the occassional lost bag occurs on all airlines – fact of life. However – My bag is permanently gone and what I am angry about is that SW has seemingly abdicated responsibility for getting customer luggage safely to it’s destination. I’m paying for the flight, they should at least have processes and policies in place to minimize the liklihood of permanent loss or theft. Here’s what I learned while trying to help SW staff locate my luggage — The tag they put on your bag at check-in has a bar code on it, however they no longer scan those bar codes into a computer system like they once did. This means that SW airlines has absolutely no way of knowing whether my bag got on any plane, let alone the correct plane. They can not match bags to passengers and can not account for what baggage is on any plane. It also appears that my bag may have been sent to my destination (Phoenix) on an earlier plane than I was on. I suspect this because my boyfriend and I checked bags at the sametime (inside by the way) and his arrived in Phoenix ahead of us. We found it in the UNSUPERVISED “unclaimed baggage” pile. Additionally, the tag on his bag had my name on it. This meant my bag had his name on it – you would not believe the confusion that caused for the baggage center people tasked with finding my bag. So, IF my bag made it to Phoenix, it probably arrived early and sat in the unsupervised unclaimed pile and got stolen because despite that fact that I was issued a baggage claim ticket, baggage claim tickets are not checked at Phoenix Skyharbor – just walk out with whatever bag looks good to you. So, it appears that SW did not track my bag via the available scanning technology, put someone else’s name on it, sent it early to an airport that doesn’t check claim tickets, so that it could sit unsupervised in a pile near the exit. Does baggage sometiimes get lost? Certainly. Did Southwest follow a process reasonable likely to keep my bag safe? Absolutely not.

  25. HAHA, Most of you guys are so annoying! I fly alot and I have been on many different airline’s, and Southwest have been the best! I recently flew on Southwest and even though they delayed my flight and lost my bags…OH WELL things happen half the time its the actual airport thats at fault for the flight delays, the weather was fine out side it was the people inside the airport and werent letting people know what was going on, and it was very busy! Things happen things are lost and flights are delayed! At least you didnt get on a plane and crash! Southwest have pretty good service and you dont have to spend alot of money to get on the plane! So suck it up and stop being big loser’s and deal with the things that happen like big people do in the real world. Dont complain about the things you have no control over!

  26. Annoying? How about ANNOYED?
    1. I don’t lose bags because I don’t check them. This rant isn’t about lost bags. At least for me.
    2. No, I don’t expect to crash. I guess that happens only on “other” airlines. Right?
    3. it’s cheap. Granted. I’m not looking for First Class on Air France
    4. I may have no control, but I have voted with my feet. Two words:
    Jet Blue.

  27. Oh God, this is the first time ever that I have had a lost bag on any flight!! And I fly a lot!!! I got in to Honolulu Sunday night, retrieved one of two bags, made my claim and was assured (assured!!!) I would have my bag delivered, or be contacted, within 24 hours. Monday came and went, no bag, no contact. Tuesday afternoon, voice mail messages were left, no contact. Wednesday afternoon, after a call questioning why they treat tourists like this when we are obviously contributing to their tourist industry (I’m in Hawaii for goodness sakes!!) I finally get a call back that tells me nothing I don’t already know – they have no idea where my bag is. Logging on to this site, and reading other sites, I have no hope now of ever seeing my shampoo and conditioner again. Or my 20 year old tennis shoes. I had no idea there was a black hole for southwest airline baggage. I’ve seen the Nightline stories, I know that rotten employees rummage through bags for goodies, but….isn’t a half bottle of Herbal Essence safe??

    Has anyone contacted ABC News about this? I want my shampoo!!!

  28. I am glad I found this site…and for those that think this is whining, well everyone is entitled to their opinion and freedom of speech is still intact from what I know. So if you do not agree with what people are saying, fine, but let them have their opinion.

    I will NOT fly with Southwest airlines ever again and I do have a choice. My story is different than all of yours though – it is about the attendants. I have learned that the mission of Southwest airlines is that their employees are their #1 priority – great huh? Well, in my two terrible experiences what this says to me is they can treat anyone anyway they want to and do not have to care. I am ok with employees being a priority, but if they say they are going to treat their employees with respect and care, why would they not want to do that for their customers?

    Anyhow, here is my story…

    About a year ago I was on a flight where the attendants were rude to my grandmother r when we boarded and when the plane was de-boarding they told her to “hurry up” because people were waiting to get off the plane. My Grandmother, who is ill and on oxygen, was having trouble getting her equipment out of the row, and I was in the row in front of her and could not get out to help her. So instead of helping her they simply humiliated her. I asked to speak to the pilot afterwards and told him what happened. He could have cared less.
    At that point in time I decided not to fly Southwest again unless there was a large difference in fair. Well, for this next flight there was, sadly it was not worth the money I saved.
    As we were waiting to depart other passengers were commenting that there were bags still sitting outside of the plane. I looked over and noticed that the flight number and DEN were listed on the crate. We all got concerned as the plane started to leave the terminal. I rang my attendant bell. The attendant came over and was obviously annoyed that I rang the bell as we were pulling out of the gate. I said to her “we are all a little concerned that there are still bags sitting outside of the plane.”
    I had a smile on my face and a slight giggle in my voice when I said it – I was not rude in any way. Her immediate response was…and I quote, “well, what do you want us to do! Either we can go back to the gate or you can wait until we get to Denver and hope they show up!” “Lovely,” I said and she simply turned around and left.

    Another attendant, we will call her “V”, came by and my Brother who was in the row in front of me said to her “can you at least call and make sure those are not our bags.” Condescendingly, the attendant told my brother many bags look the same and she was sure those were not ours. At this point, many of the passengers were commenting on how rude both attendants had been and that they handled the whole situation very poorly.
    A few minutes later that attendant came back and said she called and they had someone check on the bags and they were not ours. My immediate response to the attendant was “how hard was that.” Yes, I was condescending but at this point I was very upset with their overall demeanor and poor customer service.
    After the plane was in the air, one of the rude attendants went to the back of the plane and the other, “V”, came by to take drink orders. When she got to me I shook my head that I did not want a drink, she stared at me so abruptly, I said “No, I do not want anything.” She said, with an accent where I could barley understand her, “you have a lot of anxiety don’t you, and before I could respond she had turned around. I went to say something to her that she was being rude and she ignored me. At this point, she was acting very childish and I, and the people around me, were astonished at her behavior.
    The next time she came by I asked her for her name. Her response was “good, and I can give you the address where to send your letter because I know it by heart.” She proceeded to speak her name to me, which I could not understand, and when I asked her to repeat it she said “what is wrong with you, can you not understand English?” The woman in the seat behind me and on the other side was in shock with her behavior and told me I should have said something demeaning back at her, but I didn’t…someone needed to be the grown-up.
    My brother had been napping and we he woke I explained what happened. So, the next time she came by he asked her to write her name down. She responded that she had already given it to me. He asked her again, “can you please just write down your name.” She again said, I already gave it to her. A few minutes later the attendant came back with a piece of paper and in very large print she had written out her name. She handed it my bother and VERY SARCASTICALLY said “there, is this easy enough for you to read, can you understand what it says?”
    The woman sitting next to my Brother immediately pulled out her blackberry and started typing a letter to the airline. When she came back over to our area there were many people commenting about her. She was obnoxious and childishly rude and at that point it felt as though she was harassing us. She came back to me and said very sarcadtically “you have a lot of anxiety, are you afraid of flying, maybe you need a double shot of alcohol.” I said “no, I am just astonished at how you are acting.”
    Another attendant that had been at the back of the plane came up and”V” went to the back.. Luckily we did not have to speak to her again after this.
    When the plane landed my Brother, who departed first, asked to speak to the pilot. When we went onto the walkway, a man was there and my brother was explaining the story. As other passengers came out one woman stayed with us to support our observations of this attendant and others also quickly commented to him on her behavior as they walked by.
    The man just kept telling us that if our bags were not there to let him know – he did not get that the issue at this point was not with the bags, but with the attendants poor behavior. As we were explaining this to him, one of the pilots was also there listening. He just stood there and did not say anything until we asked if he was a pilot. When we went to tell him the story he immediately said “there are always two sides to every story.” When I told him about the comment she made on giving me a double shot he responded with yes, we offer that to our passengers if they are anxious about flying. Come on, I could see if you ask someone if they would like a complimentary drink if they are afraid of flying, but to right out tell someone they are very anxious and that they can give you a double shot of alcohol with a rude and condescending tone are not the same thing. He then stated that for every 1 bad letter they receive 4 good ones, in my opinion this means that at a minimum 20% of the passengers receive poor service. I think he thought that was a good ratio, I do not agree.
    It was obvious at this point that neither he nor the other man knew anything about handling these types of issues. Once I could see that I just walked away as it was a waste of time.

  29. wow ,…
    iam very sorry about what had happned to you all( expect the assholes who work at loser southworst,..

    iam scared for my bag to be lots now ,.. i,ll be leaving for south west this thursday ,.. and iam afraid to ride with them they sound like shitheads……

    maybe it would be better to pack my clothes and things in a carry on ,.. it sound liek i cant trust them at all they are all evil on southwest ,..

    i can see the future and ,… it will be in fact that southwest will soon go out of business ,.. and that jet blue will grow and take over … and the old employes of south west are going to lose there jobs becuse of jet blue….

    that willhappned soon ,.. so i advise the southwest airlines workers shap up . be cus eit will be your last win…


  30. I used to fly Southwest almost exclusively, but not anymore.
    My last flight on SWA was in August 2005.
    If I was given a free ticket, I would not take it. If Southwest were the last airline on earth, I guess I would no longer fly.
    I now fly mostly on Northwest and Continental and I love the service.
    I know that no airline is perfect, but Southwest has just lost the magic.
    They need to go back to the basics of treating people right like they used to.
    The employees do not care like they used to and I became tired of the rudeness and it usually was not the employees fault, they are just understaffed and overworked and they take it out on me the customer.
    Get your act together SWA management!

  31. Here’s another reason Southwest sucks: my wife and I printed her boarding pass online and got to the airport two hours early. Because of some bad directions and advice from Southwest employees, we wasted about 45 minutes “mall-walking” around the airport. When we finally got to the Southwest check-in area to check my wife’s single bag of luggage (count ‘em: one bag), we naturally entered a line called “E-ticket, preprinted boarding pass,” or something to that effect, the “Rapid Express” line. In front of us was a gentleman who was checking in his entire family pretty well from scratch, and his last name was about 50 letters long, which the cheap Southwest computer program could not handle. The clerk avoided making eye contact with us; no other clerk ventured to help out. Forty minutes later, my wife got to check her bag. By then, she still had enough time to make the flight, except that the security line was now clogged with people getting onto the next flight, so she missed her flight. Southwest claimed it wasn’t their fault, and she ended up having to spend the night at a hotel for over a hundred dollars, just so she could take the next flight early the next morning. To top it off, the airline’s representatives at the airport were uniformly nasty to her about the whole issue, and gave her the runaround every chance they got. So we will avoid Southwest and warn as many other people as we can. They are not in the business of making people happy, and they don’t care about you.

  32. Site admin wrote:

    site admin
    Sep 20th, 2006 at 11:09 am

    You learn to remind yourself to check-in online exactly 24 hours before your departure (no sooner, because for some reason won’t let you check-in any sooner than 24 hours before). The key is to score an A boarding pass and then stand in line at the head of the cattle chute so you can score the coveted “first class” seat in the emergency exit (the one with no seat in front of it.).

    Yes, I agree about your procedure here about getting your boarding passing and etc. So, I did exactly what you said; I logged online and got my boarding passes 24 hours in advance and wound up in group A, that must be good right? So I dragged my kids to the airport three hours in advance and we were the first ones online which is exactly what we wanted. Okay, so we wait awhile until we hear an announcement which tells us our gate has been switched. So everyone RUNS as fast as they can to the new gate. Guess what, people who JUST ARRIVED hear the announcements and practically dive for the gate and we aren’t first anymore. GREAT. So, we do tell the people standing at the gate but do you think they give a damn? No. Of course not. So now we are finally about to board; but they say they will first take the people who are “injured” lets just say. This is what we later find people call “the miracle cloud”. It’s funny because people get on with slings and crutches. After we are all boarded and the “injured” people are in the first row… where did their slings and crutches go !? It’s a miracle now they can use their legs and arms just fine. To top it all off we lost our luggage (we only checked one) which I will not even go into. I will NEVER fly southwest again and if you are thinking about it DON’T FLY WITH THEM.

  33. Flying Lubbock to Sacto 2 weeks ago with scheduled stops in Alb and Phx. I switch planes in Phx thinking I’ll be home soon. But Southwaste decides to add in a Vegas stop on my flight for 30 people who’s flight was cancelled. Hey, my heart goes out to them, but why am I being inconvenienced?

    So I end up getting shanked with:
    – arrive an hour late (11:30 pm)
    – spend that extra hour sitting on the plane
    – the flight to Vegas is completely full

    Believe you me the bubbly FA safety speal really grated on my nerves that night.

    Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

  34. Quit being so cheap, just buy your own Gulfstream V, take a limo and stop being such a complaining wanker, your riding a bus what the hell do you expect.

  35. Southwest overbooked my flight by 8 or 9 passengers. I am mistakenly on the security watch list, I am a 53 year old eye doctor who has flown Southwest for years. I never had a SW flight until this year. Six of my last eight late were over an hour late.

    Because I can’t check in early they couldn’t get me on the flight I scheduled a month earlier. So while people who booked the day before when the flight was overbooked got on, their frequent flier who booked a month earlier was denied a place on the plane.

    They could have offered more to get one more volunteer off the plane but their supervisor said the “computer won’t let us do that”. To make matters worse the flight they moved me to was scheduled to leave at 7:00pm was delayed until 11:45pm. I was booked to leave at 1:00pm.

    I’ve seen a real drop off in Southwest’s service in the last year.

  36. Oh, how I wish I had read this site before checking my luggage at curbside in Las Vegas. It has been two weeks and my luggage is still missing. I checked in at the same time as my mom and sister. They received their luggage in Baltimore.

    I never had a problem with missing luggage, so I stupidly assumed I would get it. I had my best clothes I had purchased from Ebay and from various stores over the past couple of years. These were designer clothes that took me a long time to acquire. I also had my medicine in my bag, so I think that may be one of the reasons my bag is gone. Every day I think of something else that was in the bag.

    My experience dealing with my lost luggage has been mixed. Some of the people I have dealt with could have cared less. However, I found a couple of people at Southwest that were wonderful. They kept assuring me my bag would show up any minute.

    I now have to fill out a form that asks for a LOT of detail. They may also request receipts. It is going to be a huge job to get everything together.

  37. Can Yall Shut The *#%$* up about Jet Blue. They are Decent Carrier But Lets Not Forget if there wasnt a Southwest airlines , there would be no Jet blue. the CEO Of jet blue was an exec
    for southwest before he left and formed jet blue . now go suck on that

  38. I am a very irate grandmother! This morning at Sky Harbor, Phoenix, I was helping our daughter in law with grandson and baggage through the check in process at the inside counter service. We arrived an hour and a half early before the flight to San Jose, CA, but waited in line, with slower than normal ticket agents, actually lathargic, which ate up all extra time to comfortably get through security and to the appropriate gate.
    We get up to the ticket counter and the agent announces that our daughter in law’s baggage will have to be marked “LATE” because they were tagged less than a half an hour before the flight! We’d been standing in line this whole time! That means that her baggage may not arrive with her on the same flight….translating to: you’re going to have to wait for your baggage if they arrive on another later flight!
    That’s just the beginning!
    Daughter in law and baby get to the departure gate, pre-board and find a seat, with no help from anyone, mind you. During the flight our daughter in law wants to comfort grandbaby a bit by walking down the aisle to the back. Attendant rudely says, “You can’t stay here…go back to your seat!” So our daughter in law took grandbaby back to their seat and let him cry the whole entire flight! No “customer care” no, “Is there anything we can do to make your flight more comfortable,” or, “Is there anything you or your baby need?”
    Southwest Airlines is NOT baby-friendly, for that matter, family friendly!
    I am printing out the “Mission Statement” from Southwest Airlines. It reads:
    “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.”
    I wonder how long it’s been since some of the SW employees have read this mission statement!
    Irate Grandma

  39. SWA Employees aren’t baby sitters and I believe it’s an FAA safety thing about simply walking around an airplane or standing in a location just to be standing. I’m sure you’d be much more irate had the plane hit unexpected turbulance and your daughter-in-law or granddaughter were injured. Unless you are changing your flight, use the kiosks next time…that’s why they are there.

  40. For you whinning folks hear are a few facts:
    1)A few years ago, prior to having a 25% increase in baggage handling due to the TSA regs re: liquids that can be carried aboard a flight, OVER 100,000,000 bags a year were handled by the airlines in the world. 1,000,000 bags were lost, never to be found again. That’s a 1% loss rate! Not bad for any outfit.
    2)Your bags are limited to a loss amount that is published in your boarding pass. That’s the max as per FAA regs. If you want your bags covered for full value, then take out additional insurance with your insurance agent, especially if you are carrying expensive clothes or jewelry.
    3)Never, ever, put medications in your check on bags!! Anne, are you listening! How many times have the airlines told you to carry your medications with you on the aircraft! If you have jewelry, carry it with you or wear it. Don’t pack them in your check on.
    4)Now that liquids are not allowed on board, the airlines are struggling to handle the extra load. SWA was hiring for the first time in several months ramp folks to deal with the increased number of checked bags. I think they are trying to do their best, but it will take time to adjust. When the airlines finally take care of this issue, TSA will come up with another reg that will affect the flying public. Maybe you guys need to contact the FAA or TSA re: some of your complaints?
    5)I use to work for a very small airline that has a hub at PHX. Although working conditions were piss poor, the money even worse, most of the employees tried their best to find lost bags, even to the point of going to other airlines to look for bags. That just isn’t done due to the number of bags, but some folks did it anyway.
    6)For the person that had their name on their brothers bag, whose fault was that? Someone at SWA changed the name tags? Come on, fess up. You screwed up. Not SWA’s fault.
    7)Putting your name and phone number in your bag is a great idea. Everyone, including me, needs to do that. That would solve many lost bag problems.
    8)You can’t guarantee that everyone working at the airport is honest. Many employees at any company are out to steal what they can. The airlines try to do their best with screening employees prior to hiring, but with the Federal regs and the ACLU to deal with, how far can an employer check on their employees without being sued? Protect yourself and don’t pack valuables in your check on. For that matter, don’t take them with you at all. It is possible that at Las Vegas, the folks that check bags at curbside have buddies that work the ramp and can go through any bag that looks interesting!Enjoy your fine clothes and jewelry at home, or, carry them on.
    9)Now that I have defended SWA and the airline industry, I can say that service at SWA has sunk to a new low. Many gate agents just don’t care anymore. Have you noticed that not all gates are attended to until just prior to boarding? This means that a few agents are now handling 3-4 gates at a time and then run over to a gate to board passengers. SWA has gone the way of all other companies, “its the bottom line stupid.” Customer service in this country has gone to India or overseas to save $$$ and you get what you pay for. If you don’t like SWA, as someone else said on this blog, fly another line. JetBlue, which I have flown a couple of times is very good, but my favorite, is Delta! Competitive fares where we wanted to go and great service! It may cost more, but, you get what you pay for. It doesn’t change!For the person that likes Northworst, they probably have about the worse reputation next to US Scare. Poor service, lost bags, etc, etc. Compared to them, SWA isn’t that bad, except when it happens to you!! Keep smiling!

  41. I had my second bad experience with Southwest on my flight home from Tampa to Dallas. I had only one bag, a large backpack, that was checked in inside at the Tampa airport. When it came out on the conveyor belt in Dallas, the front zipper was open and things were missing. It was immediately clear that someone had unzipped my backpack and rummaged through it. Someone stole a USB wireless network card, a memory stick and digital camera. I assume it must have been the baggage loaders that work for either southwest or the airport. It was 9PM on a Tuesday night and I was dead tired from a long business trip. I just disgustedly grabbed by bag, zipped it up and left the airport.

    I called the claim center today and the customer service was very good. A claim has been filed and the service agent was extremely kind and helpful. She even went to the lost-and-found center and looked for my things while I held on the phone. I won’t be completely happy until my things are returned or compensated.

    This was the second incident. The last was a lost duffel bag that was found one day later. Southwest offered to either deliver my bag or accept a $50 gift certificate and come pick it up at the airport. I picked it up at the airport and received the $50 gift certificate.

    Not all bad. Shit happens sometimes but at least Southwest stepped up and took responsibility and offered compensation. I’ll keep flying SWA.

  42. I have flown Southwest airlines only a few times and those few times were some of the worst travel experiences I have ever had. I think that at SWA they have forgotten what the term customer service means. It seems as if they don’t think that they are obligated to make the customer’s flying experience at least remotely enjoyable. 90% of the flights I’ve flown on SWA have been either cancelled or delayed and my bags have been lost 50% of the time, and I never use SkyCap. Another problem, they don’t fly to Boston. I live in Massachusetts, near Boston, and believe me, Manchester does not deserve to have Boston in its title. Downtown Boston is at least 50 miles away. While at Logan, you are more like three miles, or a five minute train ride, away from downtown. For the last four years I have made good on my promise to never fly SWA again. I am currently a member of United’s Mileage Plus and fly only United and occasionally USAir and Air Canada, when traveling to Canada, because they are part of Star Alliance. I’m sure that United isn’t the worlds best airline but I feel that they have good customer service, they serve pretty much all of the major cities in the US, they have EconomyPlus (a cheap way to get an economy seat with like five or six inches of extra legroom), and their airport employees are helpful enough and get the job done. What I’ve found is that even though the legacy carriers in the US have a bad reputation, the extra experience is worth the extra money.

  43. I’m currently dealing with a lost bag. Checked 2 at National Airport in DC, only one arrived in Phoenix (changed planes at Chicago-Midway). I checked in nearly 2 hours early and did so at the counter so airline employees and TSA handled the bags.

    I really need the lost bag as it has work stuff in it. What I’d like to know is if anyone had a good experience with a specific baggage person.

    What I have found is that SW employees are good about following procedure. During the first 5 days someone from their PHX officed called everyday to tell me they have not found my bag.

    I pro-actively called the other offices on a daily basis including the office where my originating flight terminated. I also sent an attorney to Midway to rattle the cages at both airline offices. They really hopped to it, and actually called a customer who’s bag looked a lot like mine (same brand, same color, different style) to ask if he picked up a wrong bag. He just said thanks for letting him know the had the bag as no one had contacted him. (Incredible, SW had a bag with a name tag and would not call the owner for over 5 days ! until my attorney told them to)

    Then I found out about the Central Baggages Services Office. I was told by both an ATA employee an SW employee that this was in Dallas, not at Love Field, was where all SW lost bags go, and one could go there and search. So I had my Dallas attorney friend ready to go check. They then came up with a story that this office is at Love Field, is in a TSA/FAA secure area and public is not allowed.

    I’m left wondering what’s true.

    Anyone with any insider info or names. I’ll be glad to share my knowledge if you’ll share yours. I do airport master plan studies for a living so I know a lot about how this stuff is supposed to work and have gotten pretty good settlements as a result. Be glad to help others out.

  44. Hi folks. Not going to complain about SWA this time, but about the TSA/Security folks at San Jose Airport (SJC). A very small(5′) fellow checked by ID and boarding pass just prior to the security check. He looked at my picture ID and my boarding pass and gave it back to me. He never looked up at my face or marked anything on the boarding pass. I could have been King Kong for all he knew. The names matched and that was all he cared about. The TSA agent doing the bag screening kept asking another agent what was on her screen as bags went through. Not too good on training or couldn’t see what was on the screen. When another TSA agent took over, the new lady just kept laughing at what she was looking at. She called another TSA’r over and he also laughed. I guess they think security is a laughing matter. Think about that the next time your ass is sitting in that seat going nowhere from somewhere!

    I’m going to try America Worst next week, part of US Scare and I’ll let you know what happens. The fare was really hot, $98.00 round trip PHX-SJC! Can’t buy the gas to get out of the state for that price. Keep smilling in the friendly skies!

  45. I completely agree. Southwest sucks. I also can’t stand the stupid “no seat assignments” thing. Because there’s nothing more I want to do than have to stand in line with a bunch of donkeys 90 minutes before the flight just so I can get a seat that’s not in the middle of two fatties.

  46. I too was suckered in by their slick advertising and their boasts that they got the best customer satisfaction. Im not sure how they do customer satisfaction surveys by stone tablet apparently since they don’t take emails.
    I took a trip with my family and we had a child under the age of 5 so we were able to preboard. Even at that we were 5 or 6 rows back. I felt sorry for people that were boarding B or god forbid C. People boarding C must have some really bad karma. Im not sure how much not having seat assignments saves you. I can tell you that it has cost them any further business from me and my family.
    The term greyhound does them justice.
    I’ll pay for a seat assignment next time, with a different air carrier.

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