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Nightmare Delay at LAX Flight 976

New Arrival

 

This complaint involves my journey on Southwest Flight 976 on Tuesday, February 12 out of LAX to Dallas Love Field and was set to depart LAX at 10:25 a.m.  Upon my arrival at the gate around 8 a.m., the gate agent assured me that my flight was currently set to depart on time.

 

At approximately 9:45, I received a text message that Flight 976 was delayed until 10:45 a.m. Shortly afterwards, the display at the gate changed for departure at 11:10. When that time passed, the display was changed to 11:30. During this period, there were no more than two announcements from the gate agent about the delay giving the reason that the flight was “running a little late.”

 

At 11:30, I Googled “SW Flight 976” and discovered that the plane had NOT LEFT San Jose, California!!

 

This “chain of events” continued for the next few hours – in fact, after the last announcement around 11:30 a.m., there were NO FURTHER announcements about the change in departure times which progressively got later and later.

 

At 12 noon, several passengers and I approached the agent after noticing that there was ANOTHER flight that was boarding for Dallas Love Field. The gate agent ultimately stated, “YOUR plane is on the ground and should be at the gate shortly.” At this point, the “newest” departure time was set for 12:45 p.m., which was over TWO hours from our original time of departure and the passengers being told no more than two times the reason for the delay.

 

While waiting to board, a gentleman with a pilot’s outfit came running from the plane and through the terminal (more about that later!).

 

We boarded at approximately 12:45 p.m., and got a seat near the front of the plane so that I could make a quick exit once at Dallas Love Field, as I had a connection that departed for Louisville (SDF) at 6 p.m.

 

I asked one of the flight attendants the reason behind the delay (note that the weather was perfect – beautiful blue skies and not a cloud to be seen!). She responded, “We had a problem with the paperwork on both ends.” I probably gave her a VERY odd look, because she said , “There was something wrong in our IT Department, so we had to wait to print out the paperwork.”

 

At last, shortly after 1 p.m., everyone had boarded the plane. We then continued to wait … and wait … and wait.

 

One of the women closer to the front of the plane attempted to call Southwest Customer Service. She was on the phone explaining to them what had transpired when the flight attendants told her to “turn off your phone” because the plane was “getting ready to depart” (it wasn’t – the attendants were simply going through the pre-flight instructions). The woman told us when we had landed and were getting ready to get off the plane that the agent in Southwest’s Customer Service Department had “no idea whatsoever” why the plane was delayed, and ultimately said that her computer reflected “plane rotation delayed.”

 

I overheard my fellow passengers saying that the main door was still open, and the door to the cockpit was also standing open.

 

At approximately 1:20 p.m., the gentleman - the pilot! - who I had seen running from the plane about 30 minutes earlier was now entering the plane with TWO BOXES OF PIZZA from the “California Pizza Kitchen”!! He proceeded to hand one to the flight attendant (who walked to the back of the plane with the box), and he carried the other pizza into the cockpit and closed the door!!!

 

Again, we continued to wait … it was not until about 10-15 minutes later than the plane pushed back from the gate, and we taxied to the runway.

 

The pilot apologized over the PA system, but left the late departure time for his final announcement. He apologized for the lack of WiFi. He apologized for the bumpiness of the ride. And then he – finally – apologized for the delay, but never explained why.

 

I finally was able to get off the plane at Dallas Love Field, and basically ran for my flight to Louisville. The gate of arrival from LAX was Gate 3. My gate of departure was Gate 20 – at the FAR END of the Southwest Terminal!!!

 

Luckily, I made it without incident to Gate 20 and learned that boarding had not started yet.

 

The pilots and crew on the flight from Dallas to Louisville were the same wonderful and friendly folks that’s the hallmark of Southwest, apologizing profusely for the “lateness” of the departure (in fact, had that flight not been 20 minutes late in departing), none of those from the LAX flight would have made it and would have had to spend the night in Dallas!!

 

When I spoke to a flight attendant at one point during the flight, I told her what had happened at LAX with Flight 976 and told her the explanation that was given us. She appeared totally confused, and stated, “I’ve never heard of THAT excuse before!”

 

We ultimately arrived and deboarded the plane in Louisville at approximately 9:25 p.m.

 

My otherwise wonderful trip to the West Coast was basically destroyed by Southwest Airlines – from the gate agents at LAX to the pilots and crew aboard Flight 976 who tried to deflect our concerns, felt it necessary to get lunch (when many of us had not eaten!), and made no effort to make us whole after a miserable three-plus hours of wondering if we would end up leaving Los Angeles, or if we would be stuck in Dallas after missing our connections.

 

It seems that Southwest is more concerned about their “new flights” to Hawaii or their ongoing disputes with their mechanics' union instead of keeping its loyal customers.

 

I'm SO disappointed in this airline - the only one that I've flown on numerous trips for over 10 years!

8 REPLIES 8
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Re: Nightmare Delay at LAX Flight 976

Top Contributor

Sorry to hear about all the problems you encountered.

 

It seems to me that the best way to proceed would be to reach out to the airline customer service people via e-mail or twitter. You can do that by clicking on "contact us" at the bottom of this page and then picking either twitter or e-mail from the top left of the ensuing page.

 

I amke the suggestion as this is a customer to customer forum, and you are not likely to get a response from the company here.

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Re: Nightmare Delay at LAX Flight 976

New Arrival

Yes, I did that (reached out to SW customer service via email) ... not a word.

 

Although after some of the issues that Southwest has had over the past few weeks since my return (canceling numerous flights blamed on the mechanics' union) and then the recent SW flight that attempted to land in Connecticut - THREE times (with the wing smacking the runway at one point) - and then diverted to the Green Airport in Rhode Island, I think that my scenario is the least of their problems. 

 

I'm sure I'll fly Southwest again - I've been a Rapid Rewards member (and a SW credit card holder) for eons, and this trip was more an "exception" rather than the "rule." 

 

Basically, it could have been FAR worse!

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Re: Nightmare Delay at LAX Flight 976

Top Contributor

@mybabybluegirl wrote:

 

At 11:30, I Googled “SW Flight 976” and discovered that the plane had NOT LEFT San Jose, California!!

 


I'm all in favor of trying to identify the plane that should be coming and track it on the way although a plane swap could mess with the system, if the arrival gate and time continue to match your depature gate and time, it is a pretty solid way to know if you need to hang around the gate or not.

 


@mybabybluegirl wrote:

 

At approximately 9:45, I received a text message that Flight 976 was delayed until 10:45 a.m. Shortly afterwards, the display at the gate changed for departure at 11:10. When that time passed, the display was changed to 11:30. During this period, there were no more than two announcements from the gate agent about the delay giving the reason that the flight was “running a little late.”

 

At 12 noon, several passengers and I approached the agent after noticing that there was ANOTHER flight that was boarding for Dallas Love Field. 

 


If you are stressing the connection, this would be a good time to find alternate routes to SDF if any existed from LAX rather than an alternate but equally untimely flight to DAL, although the airlines don't like to change you if you have checked bags. Not helpful now I know, but in case anyone is reading this thread and wondering what to do when your planned 2 hour connection is now < 15 minutes. The DAL flights are annecdotally known to be very full during the day as well, so there was probably limited ability to take any standby passengers.

 

Anyway, I'll echo @dfwskier that you can copy and paste this (very detailed!) write-up into the email form on "Contact Us" - however since you ended up making your originally scheduled SDF flight I don't expect that Southwest would offer much, although the journey was more stressful than it had to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.
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Re: Nightmare Delay at LAX Flight 976

New Arrival

I’m sorry, but I don’t understand the point of this post. Apologies you had some delays, but you made your connection and got where you intended to on time. Doesn’t sound like a nightmare to me. 

 

As for the delay itself, it sounds like there was either maintenance performed (which requires a lot of paperwork per FAA regulations) or there was some sort of issue with their computer system at San Jose/elsewhere that delayed boarding/check-in. Again, that’s not ideal... but hardly a nightmare. It happens from time to time with any airline.

 

Not sure why you are mad that your flight crew decided to grab a to-go meal during turnaround. Would you rather have had a hungry/angry crew who may have already flown a few segments that day? Why didn’t you grab something quick to eat while your flight was delayed? Remember that pilots and crew are humans too. These are the people flying the plane! 

 

Lastly, I don’t think your trip was “ruined”. You had a delay that caused some inconvenience, but at the end of the day you got where you needed to go. Sure, communication could have been better. But if you are going to go cold turkey on Southwest and switch airlines over this, you are going to find yourself encountering a lot of similar issues. Trust me, I’ve seen it. 

 

 

 

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Re: Nightmare Delay at LAX Flight 976

New Arrival

I definitely beg to differ regarding the food pick-up.  I believe the FAA's regulations are that a cockpit should be "sterile" - meaning no food/drinks/etc. AND no unnecessary conversation (i.e., pilots' family scenarios). 

 

Do a Google search for Comair Flight 5191 from Lexington, KY to Atlanta, GA in 2006 - not only did the pilots get on the wrong PLANE to begin with (and had already gone through pre-flight checks) before someone had to tell them they were on ANOTHER plane, BUT they took off on the wrong runway (the "black box" had the pilots chatting to each other about their kids, wifes, et al).  47 people died that day ... one of them being my boss's best friend.

 

So do I feel a bit peeved when the pilot comes back with pizzas and closest the cockpit door.  Um, yeah.

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Re: Nightmare Delay at LAX Flight 976

Top Contributor

@mybabybluegirl wrote:

I definitely beg to differ regarding the food pick-up.  I believe the FAA's regulations are that a cockpit should be "sterile" - meaning no food/drinks/etc. AND no unnecessary conversation (i.e., pilots' family scenarios). 

...

So do I feel a bit peeved when the pilot comes back with pizzas and closest the cockpit door.  Um, yeah.


This only applies during the "critical phases" of the flight including taxi, takeoff, landing, and generally being under 10,000 ft elevation. (So not applicable during cruising altitude for instance.) They would also presumably be allowed to eat prior to departure. Anyway, the prohibition is based on flight activity, not an outright ban in the cockpit so it is not against that particular rule to bring food in while grounded.

 

Edit: for typos

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.
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Re: Nightmare Delay at LAX Flight 976

Rising Star

@mybabybluegirl  my suggestion is to reach out to SWA via Twitter. I always get a response back from Customer Care within minutes. 


SWA Passenger, Community Champion
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Re: Nightmare Delay at LAX Flight 976

Top Contributor

@mybabybluegirl 

 

I'm sorry to hear your flight out of LAX was delayed and there was no communication.

 

My guess it your flight to SDF from Dallas was late because they were waiting on other passengers off a late flight like yours so they actually did you a favor so you didn't get stuck sleeping in DAL airport. It looks like you only got to Louisville 25min late which in the world of air travel isn't bad at all

 

The walk from gate 3 to 20 is long but if you needed assistance they have carts that can take you down there. 

 

If you would like to discuss the experience with southwest feel free to reach out by the methods mentioned above or you can call customer relations at 855-234-4654 

 

I hope your next flight goes smoother than this one!

Blake