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Bad Experience with Family Travel

New Arrival

In a recent trip to Boston from BWI, my family and I had the worst experience with southwest. They say that family is priority but that was not true. We arrived at BWI 2 hours in advance for a domestic flight, had ridiculous time trying to find parking--ended up running to the gate with my husband and one year old child. Got to the gate and they wouldnt let us on because we missed the boarding. We then were sent to another terminal and promised a seat on that flight. We ended up waiting for two more flights and were in 3 separate terminals that day.  Each time, we had to wait until 10 mins before the flight time to find out if we had seats! What happened to family boarding? Our morning began at 3am and we didnt end up in Boston until late afternoon. The worst part is that eventhough we had a small child, not a single southwest employee was compassionate, helpful or eager to get us on a plane. If anyone has a small kid, you know how much fun it is to be at the airport with one all day! To make matters worse, when we finally boarded, the Southwest employees ensured that the entire A group went first (1-30) before allowing us on! In addition, on the return trip, my husband had to travel alone with our one year old and flights were cancelled and he only found out when he went to the airport. He was not priority having a small child. He had to wait for 2 more flights (another whole day at the airport) with a small child! I couldnt believe it. Prior to this, we loved soutwest, but now i will think twice before booking with family!

7 REPLIES 7
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Re: Bad Experience with Family Travel

Rising Star
Solution

Sorry to hear of your recent experience. Missing a flight and having to stay in the airport all day is not fun and same with a cancelled flight on the way back. 

 

As this is primarily a customer to customer forum I recommend reaching out to southwest directly through one of the contact methods listed here: Submitting a Suggestion and/or Complaint  

 

-Blake

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Re: Bad Experience with Family Travel

New Arrival

@bec102896  Thanks for the suggestion. I will try calling them. The link you sent is where i started to "submit a complaint". It reads to begin with Community and honestly i didnt think Southwest would do anything about it. Their customer service appears to have gone downhill. Maybe they will surprise me. 

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Re: Bad Experience with Family Travel

Rising Star

This is a tough situation, but the fact of the matter is that SW likely did all they could since you missed your original flight.

 

If all the flights after yours were full, they were not able to confirm your seats, so they put you on standby.  Generally, standby passengers board after all others with confirmed seats, so you were not able to use family boarding.

 

Again, it is unfortunate that you experienced this, especially with a little one, but during the business holiday travel times, flights are full and options for re-booking are limited.

 

-A List Preferred, Companion Pass holder, Community Champion.
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Re: Bad Experience with Family Travel

Top Contributor

@MC36 wrote:

To make matters worse, when we finally boarded, the Southwest employees ensured that the entire A group went first (1-30) before allowing us on! 


Family boarding is after the A group.

 

I'm guessing this occurred recently, during the busiest travel season of the year which means there are few, if any empty seats on a plane. You missed your flight, there's no space for you on other flights, what was Southwest supposed to do? Yeah, flying with kids is hard, but no airline is going to be able to magically create additional seats on a plane because you have a child. Having children does not give you priority and Family Boarding is always clearly announced as being after the A group. But, having missed your flight, you are flying standby and will need to wait until boarding completes if the airline is unsure if seats will be available. Basically you're waiting to see if someone else fails to show up for their flight and you can't be given a seat until 10 minutes before the flight, the cutoff time for people to arrive at the gate. This is all standard practice for flying standby on most airlines. 

 

It really sounds like the main problem here was the lack of parking at BWI, not how Southwest handled the situation. I recommend making reservations at off airport parking lots for Christmas and Thanksgiving travel. 

 

--TheMiddleSeat

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Re: Bad Experience with Family Travel

New Arrival

@TheMiddleSeat This was not during the busiest holiday season. This was in August. I understand how standby works but the time we actually got on a flight, the lady put us on 25 minutes before departure. They may not be able to create seats, obviously I assumed Southwest was magical, but they did in fact allow us to board early. We did not have issues parking when leaving Boston but did have issues with last minute cancellation and poor service as a result. 

 

When i do travel during the holidays, i will take extra measures to confirm parking.  Thanks

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Re: Bad Experience with Family Travel

Top Contributor

@MC36 wrote:

@TheMiddleSeat This was not during the busiest holiday season. This was in August. I understand how standby works but the time we actually got on a flight, the lady put us on 25 minutes before departure.

 

Continuing my response from the other post -- this would have occurred because unlike the other flights you had trouble with, that flight had an abundance of unsold seats. Thus the airline could give them to you in advance of the 10 minute time period, and thus let you actually  family board.

 

They may not be able to create seats, obviously I assumed Southwest was magical, but they did in fact allow us to board early. We did not have issues parking when leaving Boston but did have issues with last minute cancellation and poor service as a result. 

 

When i do travel during the holidays, i will take extra measures to confirm parking.  Thanks


 

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Re: Bad Experience with Family Travel

Top Contributor

@MC36 wrote:

In a recent trip to Boston from BWI, my family and I had the worst experience with southwest. They say that family is priority but that was not true. We arrived at BWI 2 hours in advance for a domestic flight, had ridiculous time trying to find parking--ended up running to the gate with my husband and one year old child. Got to the gate and they wouldnt let us on because we missed the boarding.

 

That tells me you got to the gate less than 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time. You seats were given to someone else per the rules about having to be at the gate and ready to board before the 10 minute  rule kicks in.

 

We then were sent to another terminal and promised a seat on that flight. We ended up waiting for two more flights and were in 3 separate terminals that day.  Each time, we had to wait until 10 mins before the flight time to find out if we had seats! What happened to family boarding?

 

See my bolded response above. First of all, you were not promised a seat, you were promised a shot at standby, and put on the standby list.. If there are no "presold" seats available, then the airline has to wait to see if there are any "no shows," and if there are, then those seats are given to standbys. See what happened to you on your first flight

 

Our morning began at 3am and we didnt end up in Boston until late afternoon. The worst part is that eventhough we had a small child, not a single southwest employee was compassionate, helpful or eager to get us on a plane. If anyone has a small kid, you know how much fun it is to be at the airport with one all day! To make matters worse, when we finally boarded, the Southwest employees ensured that the entire A group went first (1-30) before allowing us on!

 

As others have said, the rule is that A-List boards first, then families, then everyone else.

SW was simply following it's rules.

 

In addition, on the return trip, my husband had to travel alone with our one year old and flights were cancelled and he only found out when he went to the airport. He was not priority having a small child. He had to wait for 2 more flights (another whole day at the airport) with a small child! I couldnt believe it. Prior to this, we loved soutwest, but now i will think twice before booking with family!

 

Sorry that you had a bad travel experience. May your future trips be less stressful