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Forced flight changes common practice?

New Arrival

Long story short: SWA customer service let me know today that it is their common business practice to make flight changes “for various reasons” and “scheduled changes” even though the confirmed flight is still there. That’s BS. 

I had a confirmed round trip flight booked weeks ago. About a month before my upcoming flight I received a notification of a flight change from a 4pm return flight with one stop to 7pm direct flight. OK I’m getting home about the same time, fine. Then about a week later, my return flight changed again from 7pm to 8pm. So I called to ask why there are so many changes. 

Essentially I was told that these kinds of changes happen all the time that it is “common”. I told her my job required me to fly regularly (15-20 times a year) for about 4 years and this never happened to me before with other airlines like AA, UA, Delta. I couldn’t have been that lucky. I have experienced overbooked flights and at the gate the airline asks for volunteers and compensates people for the hassle and flight change. In this case I’m being forced to change flights weeks before the flight without any compensation. The only options available were to cancel my trip for a refund, or change it to another flight which was either later in the evening or a morning flight, or a different day. She was “happy to cancel my flight and offer a refund”. That’s BS customer service. 

I asked what happened to the flight I was previously “confirmed” and was told that it is “no longer available” because of a “schedule change”. She said the “flight is no longer available”. I asked her to look up that flight and she confirm that flight still existed and was still scheduled to fly at 7pm. The only change is that I was FORCED off that flight, that SWA decided it was OK to move me and keep others on the flight. It’s certainly not weather related because we are weeks away from the flight. 

The only explanation I can think of is that SWA overbooked the flight and is forcing changes in advance to avoid compensating customers for the forced changes or, they’re selling more tickets at a higher price and letting those customers to stay on the flight and moving me instead. What else could it be? Regardless what the reason is, this is not right after being given a confirmed flight. Saying all flights are “subject to schedule changes” is very bad customer service and a great way to lose customers. The only other option I was offered is to escalate the matter to customer relations, which I plan to do when they reopen tomorrow. 

If SWA truly moves people from one flight to another whenever they want without any compensation, I would much rather pay a little more for a confirmed seat and flight with another airline, and be fairly compensated if forced to change flights which is the standard practice of other airlines. The constant flight changes and no promises to keep customers on their confirmed flight is not worth the trouble. 

Can anyone provide any insight into this experience?

 

Is it really SWA’s common practice to move their customers off confirmed flights without any compensation?

 

Has this happened to you on other airlines too? 

2 REPLIES 2
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Re: Forced flight changes common practice?

Top Contributor

@songhyokyi1979 wrote:

Long story short: SWA customer service let me know today that it is their common business practice to make flight changes “for various reasons” and “scheduled changes” even though the confirmed flight is still there. That’s BS. 

I had a confirmed round trip flight booked weeks ago. About a month before my upcoming flight I received a notification of a flight change from a 4pm return flight with one stop to 7pm direct flight. OK I’m getting home about the same time, fine. Then about a week later, my return flight changed again from 7pm to 8pm. So I called to ask why there are so many changes. 

Essentially I was told that these kinds of changes happen all the time that it is “common”. I told her my job required me to fly regularly (15-20 times a year) for about 4 years and this never happened to me before with other airlines like AA, UA, Delta. I couldn’t have been that lucky. I have experienced overbooked flights and at the gate the airline asks for volunteers and compensates people for the hassle and flight change. In this case I’m being forced to change flights weeks before the flight without any compensation. The only options available were to cancel my trip for a refund, or change it to another flight which was either later in the evening or a morning flight, or a different day. She was “happy to cancel my flight and offer a refund”. That’s BS customer service. 

I asked what happened to the flight I was previously “confirmed” and was told that it is “no longer available” because of a “schedule change”. She said the “flight is no longer available”. I asked her to look up that flight and she confirm that flight still existed and was still scheduled to fly at 7pm. The only change is that I was FORCED off that flight, that SWA decided it was OK to move me and keep others on the flight. It’s certainly not weather related because we are weeks away from the flight. 

The only explanation I can think of is that SWA overbooked the flight and is forcing changes in advance to avoid compensating customers for the forced changes or, they’re selling more tickets at a higher price and letting those customers to stay on the flight and moving me instead. What else could it be? Regardless what the reason is, this is not right after being given a confirmed flight. Saying all flights are “subject to schedule changes” is very bad customer service and a great way to lose customers. The only other option I was offered is to escalate the matter to customer relations, which I plan to do when they reopen tomorrow. 

If SWA truly moves people from one flight to another whenever they want without any compensation, I would much rather pay a little more for a confirmed seat and flight with another airline, and be fairly compensated if forced to change flights which is the standard practice of other airlines. The constant flight changes and no promises to keep customers on their confirmed flight is not worth the trouble. 

Can anyone provide any insight into this experience?

 

Is it really SWA’s common practice to move their customers off confirmed flights without any compensation?

 

Has this happened to you on other airlines too? 


 

 

Southwest recently cancelled something like 40% of it's schedule because of demand decline due to covid-19. While schedule changes do happen all the time, this is an unusual situation caused by the pandemic, requiring a more significant reduction in available flights & seats.

 

If they move you to another flight, you have the option of requesting any other itinerary if there are better flight options for you. Or you can request a full refund. This is granted by the Contract of Carriage, the legal contract that you agree to when you book the flight. This is standard on all carriers -- just because you have a seat assignment on another carrier does not mean that they are unable to do exactly as Southwest has, and provide exactly the same accommodation.

 

I'm not sure what might have happened for you to be moved off a flight that is still scheduled, but it could be something like a plane swap from a larger 175 seat plane to a smaller 143 seat one. In addition, Southwest may have originally sold a full plane's worth of seats, but now is only flying with 2/3rds of the seats available, as they block the middle aisle to accommodate social distancing.

 

If they are unable to move you back to the original flight, there's not much else you can do except keep checking back to see if a seat is available.

 

Hope this info helps.

Highlighted

Re: Forced flight changes common practice?

Top Contributor

@songhyokyi1979 wrote:

Long story short: SWA customer service let me know today that it is their common business practice to make flight changes “for various reasons” and “scheduled changes” even though the confirmed flight is still there. That’s BS. 

 

If SWA truly moves people from one flight to another whenever they want without any compensation, I would much rather pay a little more for a confirmed seat and flight with another airline, and be fairly compensated if forced to change flights which is the standard practice of other airlines. The constant flight changes and no promises to keep customers on their confirmed flight is not worth the trouble. 

Can anyone provide any insight into this experience?

 

Is it really SWA’s common practice to move their customers off confirmed flights without any compensation?

 

Has this happened to you on other airlines too? 


All  airlines do it the same way. If something causes a flight to become unavailable ,then the airline move the passengers to other flights .

 

1) No airline provides compensation for doing this.

2) It's happening a lot with all airlines now because COVID is causing passengers to not fly and airlines to cancel more flights. I've read that Southwest cancelled 90,000  November and December flights

3) If you find a better flight on the routing, Southwest allows a no cost change to that flight

4) You can always cancel, and the fare you paid will be refunded to your original form of payment