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WHY NO SOUTHWEST TO HAWAII?

Employee
Employee
See below for April 10 update  Everyone at Southwest Airlines was saddened by the sudden termination of service by our codeshare partner, ATA Airlines. Setting aside the business relationship for just a second, we appreciate the hard work of our colleagues at ATA, and wish them nothing but the best in the future. However, I thought I should post a quick blog about a question that's come up MANY times since ATA ceased operating–why didn't Southwest buy (or take over) ATA's Hawaii routes? As much as all of us at Southwest would love to have done it, there are a few absolute brick walls that prevent us from just jumping in on short notice to fill the void left by ATA. The simple answer: we can't. First, there is no such thing as "buying" a domestic US route these days. Deregulation of the industry the late 1970's meant that any airline could fly between any two points in the US if they wanted to. Some international route authories are still tightly controlled, but mainland–Hawaii service is considered domestic. So there was nothing to buy. Okay--on to the brick walls. Brick wall #1–Southwest's aircraft are not ready to quickly start flying to Hawaii. Twin-engine aircraft require extra equipment, and their flight and ground crews extra training, in order to fly longhaul flights over vast stretches of open water. ATA's Boeing 737's and employees (as were those of Aloha Airlines) were already fully certified in that process. Southwest's haven't been, because we have never needed it. Brick wall #2–resource availability. Southwest's low costs are predicated on efficiency and part of that efficiency means we don't have spare, unused aircraft and Crews simply sitting around waiting for something to do. If we were to undertake a large-scale new operation on very short notice (and simply duplicating ATA's Hawaii operations would require nearly a dozen aircraft and the opening of five new cities), we would have to cancel existing service to free up aircraft, reaccommodate Customers booked on those flights, and reroute possibly hundreds of Crew pairings–all at a huge cost to both Customers and Crews. In these days of $100 a barrel oil, that is a cost Southwest just couldn't justify. Going further...in response to these brick walls, many have asked why Southwest just didn't buy ATA's aircraft (already certificated and in use for Hawaiian operations) and use those aircraft to fly ATA's former routes. Again, it's a lot easier said than done. First, the certification for longhaul overwater operations is specific to the airline, not the aircraft–so even if we had slapped a Southwest logo on ATA's aircraft, we still couldn't immediately begin boarding our first departure to Honolulu. And while ATA flew 737's (among other aircraft types) to Hawaii, they were the 737-800, a different type of 737 than Southwest's (we fly -300's, -500's, and -700's). Introducing a new aircraft type into an airline's fleet is an expensive, time-consuming, and resource-intensive activity, and our current focus and efforts are better spent on improving the efficiency and performance of our existing, mainland-based network. Again, we are enormously disappointed at this turn of events–but I hope this answers some of your questions as to why Southwest isn't able to simply swoop in and take up the Hawaiian "slack"....and we sincerely wish all of ATA's employees the best of luck. Thanks for reading "Nuts About Southwest!" Update as of April 10, 2008:  Today, Southwest began contacting Customers who purchased Southwest tickets operated by ATA Airlines and were scheduled to commence travel after from May 3rd to process full refunds of their tickets. While we have successfully reaccommodated the majority of our Customers traveling between now and May 3, we have also realized that the only realistic option as we go forward into peak travel season is to give full refunds on existing purchased tickets.  As we examined reaccomodation options beyond May 3, it became readily apparent that, given the significant reduction in capacity between the Mainland and Hawaii after the discontinuation of both ATA and Aloha Airlines, there were simply too few seats left available to offer all of our Customers suitable rebooking options. Why was May 3 picked as the date?  Well, the simple answer is that it gave Southwest 30 days to handle Customers that were most immediately impacted--to contact them, to reaccomodate them, and to get them on their way.  Looking past that date, though, it was pretty clear after a week of study that the options past May 3 were not greater--they were fewer. I can honestly say that everyone at Southwest is heartsick at this outcome, just as we are enormously disappointed at the sudden demise of ATA.  However, we *do* think it is better to refund existing, paid Southwest tickets on ATA flights, rather than to keep you waiting on options that would most probably be inferior to the great service that we had planned to provide for you. To answer a harder question.....did we look at other options?  Of course.  Read the blog post above for a detailed explanation of why Southwest can't just start immediate service to Hawaii. Further, when the numbers of people booked on each, individual day were studied, there just weren't enough people on each single day to funnel them through a logical "collection" point, given their existing reservations, and arrange charter service even in the short term.  And to make that option even more difficult, the list of available charter options has been significantly reduced by the current industry crisis.  So, that just wasn't an option.  Nor was it an acceptable option to keep you on pins and needles.....thus this decision. Again, those Customers who purchased Southwest tickets operated by ATA Airlines and were scheduled to begin their trips between May 4 and August 22,2008, will receive a full refund delivered to your original form of payment and a Southwest LUV voucher as a gesture of goodwill for this inconvenience....but I thought it was important to update the blog with the "breaking" news.   We had hoped to build on our relationship with ATA, but they decided they couldn't continue in the current business climate.   We have done what we hope is best for everyone. All of us here at the Southwest Airlines are very saddened by this.  We hope you will understand that ATA's discontinuation of scheduled service was just flat beyond our control...and that we are doing what we can to provide the best Service to our wonderful Customers.    Bill
156 Comments
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Any idea when I would be contacted when I am booked on a Hawaii flight in August?
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With the demise of ATA, it has also left a hole for New York area passengers. The only option now is from MacArthur Airport on Long Island. For many in this area, especially in New Jersey, Long Island is really not an option. Driving to Philadelphia, though further away, is an easier, though not that convenient an option. Southwest should look into service from one of the other smaller New York regional airports such as Stewart in Newburgh, NY (serviced by AIrtran, United, American and JetBlue) or Trenton in central New Jersey (currently only serviced, I believe, by Delta).
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I booked 3 ATA flights to Maui 4/26 - 5/2 using Southwest Rapid Rewards, and now I'm in the same waiting game. I think the point here many people are making is the anxiety and lack of information from southwest.com for southwest customers in this predicament: since 4/3, we have seen fares from other carriers double from $350 to $700 as of today. I have called the 800 number a few times each day wonder what I should expect from SW Reaccomodation when they DO finally contact me: will I get rerouted to a new carrier with the same flight dates without additional out of pocket charge, or will I just get refunded my Reward points (which will not help with my vacation plans), which if this is the case, I need to be told back on 4/3 when other air fares were in the $300 range. Southwest should set the correct expectation up front and as soon as possible - so far I am not certain what the official company policy is, nor when I will get called, nor if I have to start cancelling my hotel and condo bookings for my trip before that's too late. Lack of information is what's keeping a lot of people like me in limbo and upset!
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Good answer to my question above, but wasn't a "ring-fenced" operation the way that Southwest ran Muse for a few months. That was not the greatest experience for Southwest, because you had to close it down, but you had an airline operating MD-80s - totally different from Southwest fleet, and you got Muse to operate routes that were complementary to Southwest's own operation. I thought when ATA started doing DFW-MDW, MDW to NY and Washington etc, that ATA became a sort of proxy -Southwest. Whether Southwest does some things itself, or with a partner - maybe as a partner for a Europe based airline - I know it has to be something that produces a win for Southwest. A WN-win situation.
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Hawiian Air added 2 roundtrip flights from HNL to Oakland to take only stranded ATA & Aloha passangers and the 2 flights from HNL sold out before the Media got ahold of it to tell the public today. The Hawaii Tourism Authority helped set it up, heres the link. http://www.kauaiworld.com/articles/2008/04/07/breaking_news/breaking01.txt
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Oh and it was not free, $200 one-way
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Well the day has come, you've finally decided the fate of my family and their vacation and for all of you out there wondering about Rapid Rewards for travel with ata after May 3rd you're not going to get anything but your rapid rewards miles, possible waiver of the $50 extention. That's it. I they can't even tell me when they will be willing to call me and notify me of this. Now if your kids were one of the lucky ones traveling before May 3rd SW is willing to reaccomodate you. Now if it sounds like I'm angry, that's because I am. I wasn't to start with. I understand business, I understand you were caught off guard, but shouldn't you have clear ideas of what you are going to do in these situations? I was told by an agent last week that she would assure me that even though I was on a Rapid Reward, since I had booked through Southwest that they would reaccomodate me and I WOULD be going to HAwaii. I know you are going to say, well she was misinformed. OK So what is your excuse for making me wait until all other options were gone and flights have tripled in cost, and still i had to contact you. You know who I am, send me an email, tell me you're not going to reaccomodate me, fess up. I realize fuel has gone up.....and all the other things you people reading this are going to throw out there, but consider this I have companion status on Southwest and have saved over a year to go. Even if I could find something for my travel dates that I could afford I'm now sitting with RR tickets that they won't extend over a couple of years so I won't lose them. SO I pay for tickets to HAwaii and lose future vacations I've already earned. BUT< BUT Most important to me is that Southwest thinks my family is less important than the other Rapid Rewards customers traveling between now and May 3rd. Southwest you blew it this time.
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I called the 800 number today to try to rebook by 4/26-5/2 flight. There was long hold (30 minutes), probably due to the mad 4/8 rush - but the good news is the SW agent was able to rebook my flights on another carrier, with comparable arrival/departure times, and not a dime out of my pocket! My faith is restored on Southwest, Thank you!
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Just a thought about SWA and international travel. Someone with some (lots of) money could copy the SWA model with international travel. Once they become available, they'd buy a fleet of the new 787's and only run 787's... The airline would only fly long haul, multiple stops, for low cost. The airline would have a similar seating setup as with SouthWest, no 1st class, zoned boarding, etc. The airline could then code-share with Southwest, and fly out of fair weather hubs like LAS, PHX, LUV, etc.
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Excellent explanation. As the spouse of a stockholder, I appreciate the fact that Southwest does not jump into markets. You have a tricky issue Rapid Rewards, but $107-a-barrel oil leaves all airlines with tough decisions that focus on survival.
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Thanks for that great explanation! I am disapointed as I've been saving reward points for 2 years for a trip to Hawaii, but this helps me understand the situation.
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Will it do me any good to call Southwest for a flight in July or will they just tell us to wait in line? My fear is that by the time they get around to calling me they will have decided to just hand out refunds. If that is the case there will be no way my wife and I could afford to go to Hawaii. Which really sucks because my in-laws were giving us there timeshare and that won't happen again anytime soon.
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Laura, Sorry to hear about your trravel plans being ruined. I too am in the same boat with the rewards travel except I have not been contacted by anyone, as I am sure they are busy. I wish they would just tell us something though. I chose to fly SWA for business so I can take my wife to Hawai'i in May. I guess I will go back to flying Continental Airlines full time since they not only fly to Hawai'i, but places all over the world. The Hawaii destinations made flying SWA more attractive to me. I fly at least 2, sometimes up to 4 times a week. I will say that SWA employees are very friendly, but friendly is not going to reward my wife with a dream vacation......
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I am very interested to see how my RR tickets will be handled for a 5/4-5/14 trip to Hawaii. This was booked last year for my honeymoon. I have been saving for the last couple years and always fly exclusively on SW so that when this day did come I would be able to fly for free for all of my loyalty that I have showed to SW. If this was not the case and you did not have a great RR program, great CS and did not fly to Hawaii, I would have chose another airline to do business with. This is very troubling that I am left in limbo with so many things on my mind and to add to the fact that my flight is now cancelled and nobody at SW can give me an answer. Just let us know something. I am going to Hawaii one way or another and need to know an answer ASAP. I hope dearly that SW will keep the faith that I have in them and continue to provide the outstanding CS that they always have. SW, don't let me down.
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Called reaccomodation office for most recent update. Maybe those of us with RR tickets, booked by SW for ata, after 5/3 may still have hope. I was told this morning, no way, but this afternoon they seem to be saying if you hold on........maybe they'll be able to establish reaccomodations agreements. They will try to have everyone, in order of travel, called back within 30 days. I don't know which agent is right. Time will tell. I just didn't want to be responsible for misleading anyone. I was just passing on what I, myself, was told. Hope everything works out for all of us, as I sit biting my nails, hoping there are seats left when we find out our fate.
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Bill, While I agree with many of your points, I only ask you review what Southwest did just a few years back in taking a 27% ownership stake in ATA. That is what caused this whole codeshare thing to begin in the firstplace and put us to this point today. If we were banking on the history of Southwest and their "interests," ATA would probably have been in the SWA fold long ago, but I feel management saw that this wasn't going to be a core competitive strength of theirs when another company bought 100% back in 06 and absolved Southwest of everything but the codeshares and the new destinations. Still, I feel that when you make a business decision that operates ultimately in your best interest, you can lose money now to make money in the long run. Injecting cash to ATA would have been the best scenario as it would have kept the airline afloat and helped to move all of the stranded Aloha customers back to the Islands, giving you guys an opportunity to get under the hood and see if it would be profitable in the long run. Buying a stake like was previously done in 2004 wouldn't have required anything extra special and given some extra time to explore strategic options for both you and ATA. Even though Southwest wouldn't want ATA long term on its books like it found out from '04-06, more damage is done now in gaining independent codeshare operations with international vendors. Who's left that isn't already part of one of the global codeshare operations? Ryanair? Just some stuff to gnaw on.
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When I called today to check on the status of my flight scheduled to Hawaii May 21st, I was told they were on May 3rd. Is there somewhere where we can follow the status of the dates to see where they are?
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Dear Brian, Like Andy in the comments above my family has been planning this trip to Hawaii for about three years. We have actually spent about $300 renewing our rr tickets so that we would have enough to send the 4 of us. This was supposed to be a once in a lifetime trip for my family. The opportunity will not arrise again because my kids will soon be out of the house and into their own lives. I understand that May 3 will probably be the cutoff date for those who are using rr tickets. This seems a shame because although we have been booked since January, I know that a person who scheduled a flight at the last minute in March and planned to leave before May 3 would be able to jump ahead of the rest of us and have his tickets intact. I would be willing to even pay a little extra if that would help out or would the company this once let us try to sell a few of our tickets to get the money to purchase elsewhere. Thankyou for a place to come and talk to someone. Sincerely Ernie
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Have patience! I am flying in 2 days and there are all sorts of problems with my reservation, but I know SW will work it out. I am on RR and they are rebooking me....just taking alot of time due to various issues with paper tickets, cancellations, etc. SW rocks!
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After reading all of the info, finally made it clear why it isn't so easy for another airline to take over the routes to Hawaii. Was booked in May for Maui on Aloha. Can't get tickets now because price is so high on any other airline and to many stops for our age. Would like to know if anyone will be taking the non-stop routes from John Wayne Airport to Maui, in the near future or ever. Thanks Southwest for the info and maybe we will see you again if we go to Vegas for our 35th anniversary instead of Maui.
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This has nothing to do with Hawaii, but I don't know where else to put this topic. Has Southwest ever considered (or would it consider) flying from MDW direct to Daytona Beach?? Not a single airline from either MDW or ORD flies to DAB non-stop. I know sooooo many people that have to fly into Orlando and make the 70 mile drive to Daytona. The Daytona Airport is hassle free, very clean & a great option VS. the HUGE traffic at Orlando. AirTran flies from MDW to DAB, but with a change of planes in Atlanta.....I do fly this quite often to avoid MCO, but sometimes I hate the Atlanta plane change even more....not to mention to luggage that often does not make the connection. Please consider flights into Daytona Beach - I would LUV to see Southwest give it a chance!!
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Bill, Wow, it's great to see you answer each question personally. And I will begin by saying, I luv southwest both as a customer and as an investor. I am dissappointed with Southwest not deciding to buy ATA and their operations to Hawaii. Everyone on the blog mentions the potential problems southwest would have to integrate the ATA's fleet of 737-800s, but no one has mentioned buying and operating ATA's fleet of 757's. The 757's will be able to carry more passengers in heavily traveled markets, perhaps combining 2 or 3 rush hour flights into one flight on the 757s. You can certify these plans for ETOPS and have them fly to Hawaii with slightly less frequency than the 737's. Although, you will have problems integrating the 757s into the southwest fleet of 737-700s, it would be much better to integrate a larger and more fuel efficient 757 than another 737, which southwest is full of. I think everyone would just luv to see WN fly to Hawaii.
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Dorothy, You probably won't see Southwest fly to Daytona Beach anytime soon because they already serve nearby airports such as Jacksonville and Orlando (Southwest has a huge presence at MCO) I have been to MCO about 25 times and find it easy to get in and out of there compared to some other airports. It would be nice to see Southwest go into a couple cities and do some short haul flights such as Minneapolis to Denver, St. Louis, and Chicago. they could probably do it with 2 or 3 planes. Chicago is an hour each way. St. Louis is 90 minutes and Denver is 2 hours. This would cover about 75% of Southwest's cities in one layover or less. It would also be nice to see Southwest fly to Las Vegas or Phoenix from either PBI or FLL. You can't get to west coast in one stop from South Florida.
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I just received the sad news that for those of us booked on ATA after May 3 there is no hope of getting to Hawaii. I reissued 4 tickets to make this a "free" flight which cost me $200. Now I have to pay a penalty to the hotel for canceling my reservation. So I get the awards back and extra travel vouchers and it only cost me $450 to go nowhere. I should be happy about this????
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I am saddened that Southwest has decided to cancel my flights to Hawaii. My husband and I didn't really have a honeymoon because we chose to include our 3 children in our marriage ceremony in 10/06. This was going to be our honeymoon. We diligently put all of our purchases on our Southwest Visa and were going to fly to Hawaii for free. I guess I need to find another rewards credit card to start using....maybe a new airline too. It's too bad, I used to like Southwest.
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Southwest first said they'd accommodate us (in emails and different calls I made)... today they said everybody traveling to Hawaii after May 3rd who booked through Southwest is SOL... go buy a ticket elsewhere. Hawaii travel is the only reason I've been accumulating Rapid Rewards on Southwest. I've canceled my Southwest visa card. Given their flip-flop in "accommodating us", I hope there's a class action suite... as I'd like to cover my losses on this. Does anybody know of a lawyer starting any class action suits over this? Thanks, Chris
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I would have been happy just getting my money back if Southwest had told me that's what's going to happen from the beginning. But now, great, a voucher. I'm not holding my breath that this "gesture of goodwill" will be for 200 dollars per person (the difference between the fare I could have gotten if I had reserved just when ATA went bust and what I paid today).
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Hahahahahahaha You people are simply great. A company, not southwest, goes bankrupt. Southwest has already turned your money, or your revenue in the form of RR credits over to ATA, and you moan when you get them back. If you bought direct from ATA you may never have gotten them back. Instead of you moaning about how terrible life is, you should be thanking SW for digging into their own pocket to refund your money. People, I know this is a surprise, but when a company goes bankrupt, that means they HAVE NO MONEY. That means they have already spent your money. Where is your refund coming from....SW bank account. You should be thankful. But, all I hear here is how bad SW is because my trip is effected. Tell me, if you rent a car through Budget, on the SW site, and the car is not there, whose fault is it? If you rent a hotel through the SW site, and it is not there, whose fault is it.....It is not SW fault. This is the same thing.
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My family and I are among the 20,000 travelers to Hawaii who Southwest promised to reaccommodate, only to reneg on their promise three days later. I am absolutely STUNNED that Southwest, of all companies I've ever done business with, would do this. I've flown SW almost one hundred times in the last few years and have been completely satisfied with their customer service in every way. I talked them up to my friends, my colleagues, strangers at the grocery store... recruited a half dozen people to get a Rapid Rewards Visa... I could not be a bigger fan and advocate of Southwest. Until today. I understand that ATA's bankruptcy is not Southwest's fault nor its responsibility. And I would have completely understood if SW had said right from the start: "Hey, we're so sorry for your inconvenience, here's a complete refund, good luck." Instead, when I called on April 7th (after waiting several days as SW requested, because they were busy assisting immediate travelers) I was reassured over and over by the customer service agent that "Our CEO is committed to reaccommodating everyone" and "please be patient, a reaccommodation agent will contact you soon to rebook you on another carrier" and "We will not leave ANYONE in the lurch" and my personal favorite, "We do not want to be the airline known for ruining everyone's vacation." I remember thinking, wow, I should have known-- of COURSE this is the way SW is handling this-- there is no company better at customer service. And once again I found myself bragging to anyone who would listen about how outstanding SW is. So when I received the email today, only three days later, saying, oops, actually we're just giving refunds after all, I was completely shocked. It's unacceptable. Who is this airline and what have they done with Southwest?? Look, I would have understood completely if they told me on Monday that I was out of luck and to book elsewhere. I'd actually already looked around and found an alternate flight for $475. But I was GUARANTEED I'd be taken care of by Southwest. So I took them at their word. Today, they let us down completely, and the same tickets we could have had on Monday for $475 are now over $900 dollars. What do we do? My brother lives in Hawaii and we see him once a year, at best. This was our first vacation all together in five years. Guess what, Southwest? YOU JUST BECAME THE AIRLINE THAT RUINS EVERYONE'S VACATIONS. Exactly what you promised me three days ago you'd do anything to avoid. Unbelievable. I've talked to three people at SW, all of whom are polite and apologetic, but none of whom seem to understand the inherent problem with promising your customers something that you can't and don't deliver. That's FRAUD. And from a business perspective, I can't understand how on Monday SW was so confident in their ability to reaccommodate everyone that they made unequivocal guarantees, and 3 days later it's 100% impossible for them to help ANYONE booked after May 3-- and somehow this was entirely unforseeable a few days ago. They told me there simply aren't enough seats to rebook everyone, and my problem with that is I know for a fact my flight times are available for purchase right this second-- they're just very expensive. The CS agent told me that if they helped me, they'd have to help everyone, and they just can't. So there you have it. Welcome to the New Southwest. They'd rather disappoint EVERYONE than accommodate some but not all. And they'd rather lose multiple customers who would have spent tens of thousands of dollars over the years than cover the cost of one flight THEY ALREADY PROMISED TO COVER. What an absolute disappointment.
Employee
Employee
Everyone, again, I can't stress enough that we weren't the ones that cancelled your trips....ATA's decision to suddenly cease operations was a very unpleasant surprise to Southwest as well. Vicki, no, you shouldn't be happy about this--I wouldn't be, and Southwest certainly isn't. However, offering a full refund is simply the best thing we can do for you now--and certainly better than keeping you "on hold" waiting for a solution that isn't possible. Lisa L, my heart totally goes out to you, your husband, and your kids....I so wish that we could offer you better options. Chris, we *did* try to accomodate everyone as fairly as possible. When that was no longer possible, we did the fairest and most equitable thing possible: offered full refunds and a travel voucher in addition to your fare. Tommi, you'll be getting a full refund for the fare you paid *plus* the $200 travel voucher. Your comment made it sound like you thought you were only getting the travel voucher--your fare refund will be in full and to the form of payment originally given when you made your booking. Just wanted to make sure you got complete information. In response to other comments..... Joe W., yes, the 757 is a significantly larger aircraft than almost any variant of the 737, but once again, one of Southwest's core efficiencies is using only the Boeing 737--further, using variants of the 737 that seat roughly the same capacity (currently, between 122 and 137 seats). Introducing the 757 would blow so many efficiencies and economies of scale that it would negate our entire cost advantage. Steve, we are in LUV with South Florida, and we know Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach county residents LUV them some Vegas and Phoenix. We're watching....we're watching.... Dorothy, Daytona Beach isn't in our future anytime soon, primarily because of our 100+ daily departures from Orlando. While it may be a bit of a pain to hop in I-4 to get to the Orlando airport, we hope the breadth of service will make it worth your while. (Nice name, BTW....my late mom's name was Dorothy, so you automatically have a soft spot in my heart!). Keep the comments coming, guys....I'm paying attention, and will keep up the responses as long as you can stand me! Bill
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Chris. I too would like to be in the loop on a class action lawsuit and will be keeping my eyes open. As with many others, I have been terribly midhandled and lied to about the Southwest reaccomodation efforts. On the day Southwest announced the ATA demise, I would have been able to book an alternate flight on United for a few bucks less than my southwest/ATA flight. I called Southwest (even though I was supposed to wait a week) and they told me NOT TO RESCHEDULE ON ANOTHER FLIGHT; they said they would take care of reaccomodating my family (5 travelers) scheduled to fly in mid-July. I waited the week and called back yesterday to find out how they're going to handle me only to learn that once again, they couldn't talk to me. They claimed that the new date of clients they were helping was through May 3rd. I would have to wait up to 30 more days for them to call me. In the meantime... I have been watching ORBITZ flights dwindle away while Southwest is blowing my family off. And then the news today! Too bad clients. We lied to you and we'll give you a LUV voucher to shut you up! For me it sucks even more as they aren't even offering 5 vouchers for all of us - no just one little voucher for my whole family. Well, it's not gonna end well for Southwest if this is the way they are truly going to resolve this issue. Their reason for not accomodating (too few flights betwenn the mainland and hawaii) is really a lie. I could have last week and yes, today, booked an equivalent flight on another airline (but the price is now elevated!) And, in 3 weeks, Hawaiian air has announced new service from the mainland to Hawaii so I am certain Southwest's reason for blowing us off is not true. Kelly St. Germain
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There was no flip flopping done at all. The HONEST truth was told by everyone... Live with it... And no class action lawyer would touch this with a 10 foot pole....Southwest did NOTHING wrong....
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So I am on the phone with SWA right now and it appears you will have to wait for your refund until they are ready to process it which I am told could be more than 30 days. I guess I will be paying even more intersest on a trip I am not even going to take. Any idea yet on hoe big these vouchers are going to be?
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I too have been flying Southwest to accumulate RR credits to go to Hawaii. I guess, being in Houston, I can always fly Continental Airlines........
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I'm one of those 'fly Southwest everywhere' girls - because my employer utilizes them exclusively. I am a bridesmaid in a wedding in Hawai'i in July, and decided to turn that honor into a 'gift' to my family...a 'healing' time for us to bond after the unexpected death of my father a few months ago. I booked FIVE roundtrip tickets for my mom, sis, grandmother and friend to Hawaii for 7/9 - 7/14. I was very blessed - between myself and two friends, I was able to come up with three RR vouchers and that took care of three of the tickets TO Hawaii...but, the rest was my very hard-earned, 'scrimp and save' money...money I set aside diligently every single month. I had a moment of anxiety when I read of ATA's bankruptcy, but was reassured by the emails I received from Southwest. Surely, you would accomodate us...you had never failed me before. Until today. When I got the email telling us our flights were to be canceled, I will be honest. I broke down completely. My 'gift' to my family is no longer an option. Not only can noone tell me WHEN I will be refunded for the amounts charged to my credit card...those funds won't even be sufficient enough to purchase TWO roundtrip tickets on another airline....and that's IF I get a refund in a timely manner. As it is, I am watching other airlines and am terrified that getting there myself is going to be a struggle, much less trying to accomodate the others in my party. That dream, I am afraid, went up in smoke the moment that ATA filed bankruptcy. Do you know what stings even more, Bill? I purchased all of our airfare the moment Southwest opened up the bookings for those dates...way back in January. As Ernie O'Bryan pointed out - - "This seems a shame because although we have been booked since January, I know that a person who scheduled a flight at the last minute in March and planned to leave before May 3 would be able to jump ahead of the rest of us and have his tickets intact." I agree with Ernie....in this case, our careful planning actually hurt us. Is that the message you want to send to your faithful contingent? Yes, I appreciate the fact you're handing out travel vouchers for our 'inconvenience'...but those vouchers won't get me, my mother, sister, grandmother and friend to Hawai'i in July. Bill, I am glad you didn't have to hear my mother sob on the other end of the phone when I broke the news of the cancelations. This is a trip she has been looking forward to since shortly after my father's death. It's been a bright point, one of the few positive things we have been able to do -- and the gist of the email today just frustrated me to no end. Basically, it came across as "we can't help all of you, so we aren't going to help any of you". I know that my assessment is harsh...but, so is the reality. I planned, I saved, I booked early...and I am left with few options and a MUCH higher financial burden...one that I am sure I can't overcome in the time remaining. I wish Southwest had taken into consideration those of us who booked early and are thus already financially tied to you. You have held my money since January...that's money that could have been used to purchase fares from another carrier by now. I know you have no control over ATA's financial downfall....but, Southwest has had control of my money and control of our (now) non-existent trip. I'll be honest - I don't know that I want to give Southwest another chance. Yes, I will now have quite a bit of voucher credit coming...but it is voucher credit from a company that told me today that my hard work, planning and faithfulness to this airline doesn't warrant them 'making it right' for me and my family.
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Hey Southwest: what would you want done if you were in my situation? Did you "do the right thing"?
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Quote: Does anybody know of a lawyer starting any class action suits over this? How are you going to sue a company that went bankrupt? Everything the company owns is going to be auctioned off and most money will go to the creditors and debt owed so there won't be much left. If any!
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FYI - If you charged your tickets on a credit card just call and dispute the charge. I got my airfare refunded by Capital One in 48 hours...
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Okay, it was pretty petty of me to complain about a couple of hundred dollars when I'm still fortunate enough to be able to take my dream vacation. And it really is not about the money, it's about being lied to. It makes you feel stupid and angry. I don't believe that Southwest lied on purpose. I understand and knew from the beginning that flights would become very full and the prices would go way up. Southwest reaccommodating everyone would obviously make the flights even fuller and even more expensive. But Southwest told me they'd handle it, so I thought they must know the situation better than an ordinary person like me. I guess they didn't. How's that to instill confidence in customers and the investors? And to those who want everyone to jump from joy getting a refund: I take that for granted, since we bought tickets from Southwest for a Southwest flight. The flight being operated by ATA does not change that. Southwest would be on very shaky legal ground if they didn't issue a refund. And I doubt they are so bad at writing contracts that they would actually have paid ATA for the flights before people actually flew. This is not the same as with rental cars and hotels for which Southwest just acts as a travel agent.
Employee
Employee
Guys, I can honestly say I am as disappointed as you are. Many, many options other than full refunds with goodwill vouchers were explored, and every single one of them had brick walls that simply were insurmountable. We know that ATA's shutdown wrecked many--perhaps thousands--of dream vacations, and we looked at every possibility to resurrect those. It just wasn't possible. I won't address everyone indivudually, but I just have to give a few specific responses. Kelli, and Chris, I'm not sure how you think we lied to you....and I'm sorry that you think so. Yes, I do think we did the right thing here. It took time to explore all available options, and when we finally knew what we could and couldn't do, we took the best actions possible, as soon as we could. In my book, that was far better than stringing people along while we went down endless dead ends. Aaron, it takes 30 days for a credit card refund to process, and we're not just doing one refund here....we're doing over 20,000. We are doing the best we can. Jerilyn, yours is the kind of story that hurts me the most...and that I wish the hardest that we could do something for. I am not sure why you think booking early hurt you--the reality is that for travel from 5/3 onwards *no one* is being reaccomodated, there simply weren't acceptable options, and this is the same whether you booked early or late, on RR tickets or not. We know it's not a pleasing outcome, and we know it's certainly not what anyone wants to hear--but we did treat everyone the same, and we did the best we could for *everyone*. And I am quite familiar with breaking horrible news to family--I had to tell my mother of my father's death, then years later had to tell my son of my mother's passing. So yes, while I didn't hear your mother's sobs, I've heard more than enough of them in my years to know what they sound like...and what they feel like. All any of us can do at this point can do is wish you the very best...and hope that eventually you can come back to us. *Sigh* I know I can't make y'all happy here, nor can I change your mind---and I won't even try....but I am here, guys, if you need to vent. I understand the disappointment--I absolutely, positively do. Bill
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I also am VERY unhappy (who isn't) but life goes on... Bill, can you expand on the Vouchers we'll be receiving? The $200 travel voucher - Is it one per passenger or one per reservation (with mutliple passengers)? Is there an expiration date on the voucher? Usage restrictions? Are they conbinable/transferable? Thanks.
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Bill said: "IÃ
Employee
Employee
Chris, I fully and absolutely stand by what I said. Where I come from, a "lie" means a statement that is made with deliberate intent to deceive or to convey false impression. Southwest never did that in the case of ATA's sudden shutdown; every bit of information, every comment made on this blog, on our website, and by every Reservations Agent in our network, reflected what at the time was our current-state, good-faith plan. I know for a fact that many options were explored for reaccomodation for Customers traveling after the initial 30-day period. None of them worked out. In the end, the best accomodation we could do for folks that had bought Southwest tickets using ATA service to Hawaii from 5/03 onwards was to refund your entire fare, give you a "we're sorry" voucher (which is FAR more than any other airline has, or would, do), let you make alternative plans (whether to Hawaii or to a different destination). Then to make sure we are fully available and transparent on the issue, we've opened it up here on the blog to keep everyone up to speed *and* to allow you to vent your frustrations. Not only does that indicate to me that Southwest didn't intentionlly mislead or decive, to me it shows that we've gone above and beyond--to not only keep you posted on what was happening, but to try and make it whole. We may have to agree to disagree here, Chris, but you're welcome to opinion--and my heartfelt disappointment for you, and for the situation, remains.
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Hi Bill, "Many, many options other than full refunds with goodwill vouchers were explored, and every single one of them had brick walls that simply were insurmountable. We know that ATAÃ
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OH MY GOODNESS.........BABIES BABIES...........YES, ITS SAD THAT ATA SUNK, BUT SW DOESN'T NEED TO DO ANY FAVORS FOR YOU BECAUSE OF IT, YET THEY ARE.......WHEN 9/11 CAME, I HAD A FLIGHT BOOKED ON DELTA, AND THEY SAID THEY WOULD ACCOMODATE ANY CHANGES BUT ON THEIR TERM....WHICH WAS YOU HAD TO RESCHEDULE YOUR FLIGHT TO BE FLOWN WITHIN 6 MONTHS............I TOLD THEM I DIDN'T WANT TO FLY AT ALL AND ASKED FOR A REFUND (EXACTLY 2 WEEKS AFTER 9/11) AND THEY REFUSED MY REFUND......I ESCALATED IT TO THE SUPERVISOR AND SHE SAID I WOULD NOT BE GETTING A REFUND AND I WOULD HAVE TO RESCHEDULE AS TOLD......NO IF'S AND'S OR BUT'S..SO I LOST 350.00 DOLLARS...........MAD, ABSOLUTELY, FAIR, NO.............BUT, WE ALL KNOW LIFE ISN'T FAIR.......... SW IS GREAT........NO OTHER AIRLINES WOULD GIVE YOU BACK YOUR MONEY OR RR AND AN ADDITIONAL 200 DOLLAR VOUCHER.......AND, AS WE KNOW WE HAVE NO GUARANTEE FOR WHAT PRICE GAS WILL BE FROM ONE MINUTE TO THE NEXT, SO WHY SHOULD WE ALSO BLAME SW CAUSE FLIGHTS YOU OBSERVED WHEN HEARING OF THIS WERE GOING THROUGH THE ROOF..........??????????????? ITS NOT SOUTHWEST'S FAULT, THAT THE OTHER AIRLINES HAVE INCREASED THEIR PRICES BECAUSE "THEY CAN".........CALL THEM DIRECTLY AND COMPLAIN TO THEM......SOUTHWEST HAS NO CONTROL OVER OTHER AIRLINES PRICING.....COME ON FOLKS........... THERE IS NO DOUBT WHEN THOSE AGENTS TOLD YOU TO "HANG IN THERE" THEY WOULD BE ACCOMODATING YOU, THAT THEY MEANT IT........BUT AS WE KNOW, THIS SITUATION WAS BIGGER THEN THEY EVEN ANTICIPATED AND VERY COSTLY FOR THEM, ESPECIALLY AFTER ANTICIPATING SENDING OUT THOSE VOUCHERS.......I PRAISE THEM FOR TRYING....NO, YOU AREN'T GOING ON YOUR HONEYMOON, OR TO WEDDINGS, BUT IN READING THESE BLOGS, FOR HEAVENS SAKE, YOU MADE YOUR OWN DECISION BY WAITING IT OUT.......THEY MAY HAVE TOLD YOU TO SIT TIGHT, BUT WE ALL HAVE CHOICES AS TO WHAT WE "KNOW" WE SHOULD DO.........I FOR ONE WOULD HAVE BOOKED THE ALTERNATIVE FLIGHTS ANYWAY, JUST TO MAKE SURE I HAD "BACKUP".......NO, I'M NOT RICH, JUST OBSERVANT, AND WHEN THIS HAPPENED, AND BOOM, 3 AIRLINES IN ONE WEEK, ONE BEING A MAJOR CARRIER OF THE ISLANDS, HELLO, IT DIDN'T TAKE A ROCKET SCIENTIST TO FIGURE OUT IF I WAS GOING TO GET THERE, I'D HAVE TO DO SO ON MY OWN, AND QUICKLY............ LAWSUITS LAWSUITS LAWSUITS......YOU ARE THE TYPE OF PERSON THAT MAKES ALL OF US "SICK" BECAUSE OF YOUR "BLAME THE OTHER PERSON FOR NOT TAKING RESPONSIBLITY YOUR OWN DECISIONS" ATTITUDE IS JUST OVERWHELMING............EVERYTHING HAS TO COME TO A "LAWSUIT"..........THAT IS WHAT RAISES TAXES, INSURANCES, FEES, PRICES OF TICKETS, AND EVERYTHING ELSE, BECAUSE YOU THINK YOU ARE "OWED"............NO ONE IS "OWED" ANYTHING, NOR SHOULD ANYONE EXSPECT ANYTHING FROM ANYONE............ HOW ABSOLUTELY UNCARING ALL OF YOU ARE, AS THERE ARE MANY THERE WAITING TO GET BACK HOME.......DO YOU THINK THEY ARE HAVING A FREAKIN PICNIC??????????????? THEY ARE WAITING THERE TURN, AND NO DOUBT, SW WILL GET THEM BACK HOME... OUR WORLD IS WHAT IT IS BECAUSE EVERYONE WANTS TO BLAME AND NOT TAKE RESPONSIBLITY, SAYING THE AGENT SAID THIS AND SAID THAT..........SO WHAT? THOSE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT ARE PROMISING NOT TO RAISE TAXES.......DO YOU BELIEVE THAT TOO? FLY ANOTHER AIRLINE AND DON'T COME BACK TO SW, AS IT WILL LEAVE MORE ROOM ON THE PLANES FOR ME AND MY FAMILY......YOU SAY YOU'LL NEVER FLY SW, AND WE ALL KNOW THAT IS A LIE.....NOW, WE SHOULD HOLD YOU TO THAT, AND IF WE FIND YOU ON SW EVER, WE SHOULD SUE YOU FOR TELLING US A LIE.........HOW DOES THAT GRAB YOU......... LIFE GOES ON FOLKS AND IF YOU DECIDED TO MOVE TO ANOTHER AIRLINE, THANKS FOR YOUR SEATS!.......THANK YOU SOUTHWEST FOR WORKING YOUR "ASSETS" OFF IN TRYING TO ACCOMODATE THE SELFISH......ATA IS THE ONE AT FAULT, NOT YOU......BUT, FOR SOME REASON THESE SELFISH PEOPLE HAVE TO FIND SOMEONE TO BLAME....I JUST THOUGHT IT WAS GREAT THAT YOU GAVE MANY MANY OF US THIS PAST YEAR THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE THE OPTION TO GO TO HAWAII FOR SO LITTLE..........GOSH, YOU ARE WONDERFUL!!!! SEE YOU NEXT WEEK.........
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Bill, I also am disappointed by the fact that i was guaranteed to be reaccomodated when i called and checked on the situation. Had I been told then that I would only be offered a refund we could have rebooked on another airline at that time and been alright. However I was promised by an agent in customer service that it would be reaccomodated and if that specific reaccomodation wasnt acceptable that we would be offered refunds which i also found to be fair. He also had mentioned we will be contacted in 30 days. However, yesterdays email completely revokes the guarantee I had been told and now checking the prices for flights are around double what they were. I agree with most of the above comments that the problem isn't that you arent taking care of the customers but that you have stated things and told people not to worry and then 72 hours state the exact opposite. Although most people may continue to fly southwest i highly doubt anyone will equate you as being more honest and helpful than other airlines which is what I always viewed southwest as. =Mike=
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I can not believe that how some one can close doors taking peopleÃ
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Dismayed, It's wonderful everything worked out so peachy for you. Congrats! I hope it's never your own wedding you have to cancel or your own family's heart you have to break because a company's promise went unfulfilled. Try to have some sympathy for people like Jerilyn who saved everything for a once-in-a-lifetime trip for her family. You should read her story and consider what you would have done. I know you believe you would have handled this situation flawlessly SINCE YOU'RE A TOTAL GENIUS WHO HAS EVERYTHING FIGURED OUT AND WRITES IN ALL CAPS TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE KNOWS IT, but the reality is most people don't have the means to buy a "backup" trip-- maybe they could have made it work on prices a week ago, but they were assured by Southwest they wouldn't have to. I fail to understand what is so outrageous about being upset by that. Have a nice day and try to show compassion for others.
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Bill: A good explanation.