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Worst Domestic Flight Experience Ever!!!

Explorer C

After multiple delays, my flight Christmas Eve flight to L.A. was cancelled last night. Those things happen. 


The adventure that followed was a nightmare. My options were to phone (multiple times spent on hold for over an hour, with no one ever answering), online or using the app (I was messaged a link, but trying to use it repeatedly gave me an error message). So my only recourse was to speak to a customer service rep. There were hundreds of people and involved a seven and a half hour wait in line (6:30 pm - 1:30 am). No apology from Southwest. No snacks or water. Just people hungry, tired, frustrated, standing in line. A rep could have made a list and called people to the counter when it was their turn, so customers could relax, sit in a chair, or find a hot meal. These small gestures of grace were suggested to multiple SWA employees. Nothing happened. One said that she was a stewardess and it was not her job. The situation screamed of not caring. 


Finally, it was my turn. The SWA customer service rep explained things that I already knew: There was no availability to get me to LAX, Burbank, Orange County or Long Beach. I asked them to refund my money and provide a free roundtrip voucher (standard practice for being voluntary bumped from a flight. this was neither voluntary or desired. I was missing Christmas with my 93 yr old mother and the rest of my family.) Instead, she provided a $200 voucher and told me that was all SWA would do for missing Christmas and making me endure spending all night in line dealing with their cancellation. Only it wasn't over. 


Next on the dismal treatment was retrieval of my checked luggage that included my prescription medications. This adventure began at 1:30 am. After standing in line for another hour, I was told that my luggage, 9 hrs after scheduled take-off, was unavailable and I "might" be contacted about it on Christmas. I called baggage services and left a voice message. I've heard nothing back from them. It still wasn't over.


Christmas morning was spent trying to get my luggage. On the SWA site, I noticed that they had issued me a "flight credit" for my cancelled trip. NOT A REFUND OF MY MONEY as she had committed to. So I spent more of Christmas Day filing a complaint with SWA (no response) and a dispute with my credit card company. 


Frustrations come from unmet expectations. I've never had such a horrible experience with Southwest. So a series of horrible surprises. It wasn't the flight cancellation. Missing Christmas with my family was bad enough. But the experiences afterwards (7.5 hrs in line to resolve it, another hr with luggage issues, finding out that the commitment to refund my money was not honored...) were avoidable.  


There are people in poor health, children who go hungry...I have so much to be grateful for this Christmas. Southwest created a huge distraction that is hard to ignore. 


But a Sincere Merry Christmas! 


Re: Worst Domestic Flight Experience Ever!!!

Aviator A

Sorry to hear you ran into trouble.


First of all, there are non phone and non app ways to reach the airline, when thousands of people are trying to reach the airline, using twitter or facebook are far less stressful ways of proceeding.


Second, the best you are going to get from any airline in this type of situation is some type of voucher - the value will vary between airlines, but no airline will give you a free roundtrip - not even for getting bumped - money yes, free roundtrip, no.


Third, why on earth stick your meds in a checked bag? They get lost, they are late. ALWAYS puts things YOU REALLY NEED (like meds) in your carry on.


Fourth, no airline voluntarily OFFERS refunds, even though people are due them You have to tell the airline you WANT a refund, and you will get one.

Re: Worst Domestic Flight Experience Ever!!!

Explorer C

First. There's no need for an ALL CAP lecture. We're all adults here. Thanks for the recommendations for the non phone, non app methods. They were not obvious during the stay in line, so I have no idea if they would have been helpful on Christmas eve. 


Second. Sorry if I wrote it wrong originally, but I requested a round trip voucher and was denied.


Third. Yes, it was obviously a mistake to check my meds. Your "why one earth" description isn't particularly helpful. I "own" the mistake of trusting SWA with my luggage. But SWA "owns" losing it. After nine days, it's still in limbo. I was "lucky" to have my original flight cancelled, and the ability to go home to a warm bed. According to the government, during the pandemic, Southwest committed to provide food and lodging for stranded passengers. Their customer service was not offering that. There were families with small children who didn't look affluent. They wanted to spend Christmas with their families. With no offer of lodging, they had the choice of spending the night (or multiple nights) in the airport, or taking on unanticipated expenses. 


Fourth. In addition to a voucher, I requested a refund for my fare. The customer service rep committed to issuing a refund and flashed a piece of paper that purportedly showed that. NOT flight credits. The next day, I discovered that she had issued flight credits instead of a refund.


To me, this is the biggest sticking point: There's no excuse for lying to a passenger. Was it an honest mistake? Maybe. But given the overall chain of events, I have my doubts. Christmas is a time of compassion for others. Southwest was a huge distraction to that. 







Re: Worst Domestic Flight Experience Ever!!!

Aviator C

There will likely be a slurry of legal activity after this DISASTER.