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Has SWA lost the LUV?

SigATX
New Arrival

Not really sure where to start….but maybe it is when I started as a Rapid Rewards customer in 1996 (26 years ago!) back when the airline only serviced Texas and 3 surrounding states…and of course years and years as a A-List Preferred and Companion pass member…point is that i know this airline and I know what makes them special.  They call it LUV, they call it Transfarency, and everything in between….

 

So last week, my child (15) was traveling alone from Denver to Austin - and he was registered as a Young Traveler, checked-in A50, Early Bird all of that.  The night before his flight a big snow storm was forecasted for Denver and out of abundance of caution, I booked my son a backup flight in case his shuttle from Breckenridge to Denver became stuck on I70 as commonly occurs this time of year. This is easy to do if you have thousands of RR Points and a flexible cancellation policy as SWA offers.   Well, little did I know (because i guess I didn’t read some fine print posted in some hidden place) - it is against the rules to have 2 reservations for the same traveler on the same day.  And of course - no mention of a duplicate reservation when i booked my son on line?

 

But as my son walked into the airport at 2pm for his 4:55 flight - alone with no adult - and tried to check his bags, he learned that SWA cancelled his reservation as they deemed it was a duplicate.  No notice, no effort to contact us, no consideration for that he was checked in early bird - and instead left him booked on the LAST FLIGHT  of the day at 8pm (which was the backup reservation I booked). And of course - they already gave his seat away and told him his flight was full and they would place him on the standby list.  So how could this be?  They really just cancelled a registered young traveler with no notice?  Why did I have to fill out all the paperwork with contact info?  How is it that i get an email almost every day from SWA - but there is no technology or human effort made to contact a parent of a young traveler to say “you have duplicate reservations - pick one!”  I get texts from banks verifying my transactions, i get texts from restaurants confirming a table for 4, texts from doctors and dentists and hair salons - but not a peep from SWA on cancelling my sons reservation?  Seems pretty simple “you have duplicate reservation against SWA policy: text 1 to stay on 4:55 flight or 2 for the 8PM flight”….if the computer can find the duplicate we know it can ask a question and take a response…right Siri??

 

So ok - the computer made a mistake - but computers don't have feelings - and SWA employees have feelings - that is why there is a big heart painted on the plane??  So - I figured if I called my A-List Preferred agent they would help!  Well I called - and no help.  I asked if they could contact the airport to find someone who could help my son - was told no. Asked if they could find a supervisor to be his advocate to make him a priority on standby - was told no.  My son spoke to a gate agent and asked if they would speak to his parents - and they refused.  My son located the “Chief Ground Officer” in Denver and asked for his help -and got a broken promise.  The Ground Officer told told my son he would be the first passenger on standby….until, yup…you guessed it, that last seat was given to man named Larry Moore that magically appeared on the standby list moments before he boarded and the door closed.  Is it just a coincidence that a Captain Larry Moore just retired from SWA in July???  

 

I had always heard these stories about how SWA employees would go out of their way to help alleviate stress during stressful moments…take a human approach.  But not on this day…no effort to make us comfortable that someone in Denver cared about my son and would help him get home… (the last flight of the day isn't a good place for 15 year old given their inability to check in to a hotel at age 15 if the last flight gets cancelled)…

 

So - my son waited for 5 more hours - and of after another gate change, a change of aircraft, a broken baggage door, his 8:00 flight left 90 minutes late.  This was the last flight of the day and pretty stressful for us given he had no way as a minor to book a hotel in Denver…(i guess i needed a backup plan for my backup plan)

 

So - I travel a lot (weekly pre-COVID for years) and have seen a lot across a lot of trips on a lot of airlines.   If I want a heartless, human-less, robotic travel experience I will travel on American Airlines.  But i expect so much more than that on Southwest.  Has SWA lost its LUV???  Has SWA lost its way??

 

5 REPLIES 5

Re: Has SWA lost the LUV?

TheMiddleSeat
Top Contributor

The only legit complaint I see here is lack of notification about a flight being canceled. Could have gone to spam or perhaps isn't sent in that situation.

 

Young Traveler is not really a program, but more of a set of suggestions for travelers age 12-17. If you read everything mentioned Southwest promises nothing special or above and beyond a standard flight to young travelers and the list is ideas for young people who are traveling alone. Sure, someone could have gone above and beyond, but to complain they didn't seems rather harsh. The stories we all read about employees at any company going above and beyond are great, but they are clearly the rare exception and to expect that treatment is wrong.

 

--TheMiddleSeat

Re: Has SWA lost the LUV?

CupCrusher40
Active Member

I think old rapid rewards better but thrilled for 2 summer trips

Re: Has SWA lost the LUV?

dfwskier
Top Contributor

I presume the Southwest algorithm for dealing with duplicate bookings is to cancel the earlier one .   Cancelling the later one would be bad - what if the traveler arrives for the later flight and finds out he's been cancelled?

 

Cancellation of duplicate bookings is common practice among all airlines.

 

That being said, SW should have notified you about the cancellation.

Re: Has SWA lost the LUV?

jksobonya
Rising Star

I find it hard to believe that Southwest did not contact you in *some* way to notify you of the cancelled flight.

 

--Jessica

Re: Has SWA lost the LUV?

SigATX
New Arrival

Thanks for your feedback on my post.  A couple of comments to clarify:

Yes - i see now that duplicate booking is against SWA rules.  I never knew this and in all of my years traveling have never had a reservation cancelled without notice by the airline.  On the SWA website - the 45page Contract of Carrier document says they can cancel a duplicate reservation without notice on page 9, section 2.a.2.iii.f.i - so SWA was within their "rights".

 

I still question - is this the way to treat the customer?  If they can write an algorithm to find the duplicate - you would think they could create similar logic to communicate with the customer.  I received an email that his reservation had been cancelled at 1:48pm for his 4:55pm flight.  He arrived at the airport at 2pm....so he had 12-min "notice".  He had a two hour drive in 10" of snow to get to DIA - so that is why he is there 3 hours early....

 

I will also add that while the 12-17-year old traveler is not a service/program where SWA assumes responsibility - you are not allowed to book these reservations on a mobile device as they require the parent to fill out a form with communication/contact details etc. directly on swa.com.   So his reservation was clearly flagged as a minor traveling alone.  So - not sure why they force you to go through that step if they aren't going to contact you - but assume it is just a waiver of liability or some other legal detail....

 

In any case - I have gone out of my way to travel this airline over the years (even forgoing direct flights on competitors) but not sure they are going out of their way for me.  Possibly it is just a post-COVID thing with not enough resources, or too much growth, or just an isolated situation.