Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

Confusing and Discouraging Experience at Chicago-Midway

New Arrival

I had a discouraging experience flying Southwest from Chicago-Midway to DCA this week. As a traveler, I was confused about what happened and was met with an unhelpfully sarcastic customer experience experience. 


I went from having a direct flight that got me to DC for work on time to having to take a day off of work to travel with a connecting flight in Atlanta, arriving at my destination 5 hours after I was originally supposed to arrive. 


When I checked-in for the original 7:30am flight the night before, I received a message stating that the maximum number of boarding passes had been distributed for the flight and that I could not receive a boarding pass as a result. My understanding of this was that the flight had been overbooked. In my mind, I could handle that since I assumed Southwest would do their best to put me on the next direct flight to DCA and potentially compensate me for overbooking the flight.


That is not what ended up happening. I arrived at the airport thinking that I was not going to fly on the 7:30am flight, given the message I received during online check-in. I had to wait in a long line to speak with a Southwest agent, and I ended up at the desk around 20 minutes prior to the departure time for the overbooked flight. The agent admonished me for being "confused" by the message after I told him I had been bumped from the flight. When I explained what happened, he said that I should have proceeded to the gate (without a boarding pass) since I "had a ticket on that flight." I did not understand how I was supposed to do that without a boarding pass, and the message I received the night before seemed pretty un-ambiguous. He assured me, condesendingly, with something to the effect of: "I have never spoken to anyone who was confused by this situation, and I have worked here for quite some time."


What am I supposed to say to that? It's like he wanted me to feel like an idiot for being confused by the situation, when I thought I was being fairly cool about getting bumped from my flight, which was going to impact my arrival to work. I felt like I had no choice.


The next direct flight a few hours after was sold out, and he said that my best bet was getting on a flight to Atlanta, which would lead to a later flight to DCA. In total, this re-routing delayed my arrival to Washington by 5 hours and forced me to take a vacation day -- with not so much as an apology. I was surprised by this experience since I have generally had positive experiences with Southwest customer service. I went out of my way to book Southwest for this trip, too.


I do not necessarily assume I was "right" about this situation -- hat the message I received indicated that I had been bumped due to overbooking and was entitled to compensation (by check or in points) per Southwest's policy in such affairs -- but I would appreciate some confirmation from Southwest separate from the airport agent that this situation was handled appropriately. Without that confirmation, I am still feeling a bit cheated and mistreated by the whole experience.


Thank you.


Re: Confusing and Discouraging Experience at Chicago-Midway

New Arrival

I've done a lot of traveling. I don't know if the flight was overbooked or not, but you should not have assumed it was. Many airlines, not just Southwest, stop issuing boarding passes for many reasons. It might have been to allow for no shows, to not issue more boarding passes than there are seats, a cut-off time for check-ins, etc.


You made an assumption that a seasoned traveler might not have made, but one with less experience might have. A call to the airline could have helped you resolve your concern.


Anyway . . . as they say about assume

Re: Confusing and Discouraging Experience at Chicago-Midway

Top Contributor

The notification about not receiving a boarding pass should have directed you to print out a "security document" instead, which would have allowed you to pass security, and indicated to you that you should go to the gate to get your boarding pass. Did it not?