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Southwest Customer Service Has Become Heartless

robegan
New Arrival

I wanted to share my experience dealing with Southwest’s customer service and the circumstances that led to my needing to contact them.


Last Christmas holiday, I planned to travel to see family with my three kids.  My youngest kid is severely disabled.  She has been hospitalized over 400 days of her 14 year life.  She has had over 70 surgeries.  Needless to say, taking a trip is not a small endeavor.  Right before we were to leave, my daughter got a life threatening infection that put her in the hospital and then on home care with special IV antibiotics and anti fungals to fight her blood infection.  I had to cancel our trip.

 

I expected to use the travel credits the following year to hopefully repeat the trip over this years Christmas holiday.  Unfortunately, when I tried to use the credits, I found out they expire in October, when I initially purchased the trip that I had to cancel.  I called customer service on two occasions and each time they said that they were powerless to help me; but that I should email customer service and tell them what happened and they would have the power to extend my expiration date in order to book a duplicate Christmas time trip.

 

Long story short, I contacted customer service via their email link on the web page.  The first time I got a form response with no mention of my complaint, as if they didn’t read it.  The second time I got a nice response that told me to email again and include proof of my daughter’s hospitalization.  They said to reference the number in their email when submitting my third email.  I sent them irrefutable copies of my insurance statements that showed the hospitalization and IV home care that followed.  For their third response they completely ignored that information I sent and said, “sorry, you should use the miles before you October expiration date.

 

I have faithfully travelled Southwest, along with my family of five for the last 15 years; and as an individual for my whole life, having grown up in Texas.  I never thought I would ever get to this level of frustration with Southwest.  There is no one to call that has the power to help me; and there is no guarantee when emailing that you will get someone who cares enough to actually do something to help.

 

I and my family will never fly Southwest ever again.  Even if I have to pay more, I will use another airline.  I will share this story with everyone I know.  Southwest used to have a heart.  Now they are heartless.

11 REPLIES 11

Re: Southwest Customer Service Has Become Heartless

TheMiddleSeat
Top Contributor

Sorry you were unable to use your credit before it expired.  Companies have policies, it's not reasonable to expect exceptions always be granted.

 

--TheMiddleSeat

Re: Southwest Customer Service Has Become Heartless

parpitt1
Active Member

If your intention is to spend time with your family do so in October. You agreed to this when you made the purchase, (Had you spent a bit more on the initial purchase you could have got a complete refund,) but you clearly made a choice to not opt for a refundable fares. Companies have rules Southwest explained this prior to you cancelling your travel plans. When you cancelled your flights this was clearly listed. Why would you expect an exception to a rule that you agreed to? 

How does this make SWA heartless?

I wish you well and if you seriously believe other domestic airlines will be breaking their company policies to placate you best of luck.

Re: Southwest Customer Service Has Become Heartless

jksobonya
Rising Star

I expected to use the travel credits the following year to hopefully repeat the trip over this years Christmas holiday.  Unfortunately, when I tried to use the credits, I found out they expire in October, when I initially purchased the trip that I had to cancel. 

 

Travel funds last one year from the date of purchase - not one year from the date you intend to fly. I'm sorry you didn't realize this, but this is standard policy. Had you purchased and cancelled between March - September 7, 2020, the funds would have been good until 2022. 

 

--Jessica

Re: Southwest Customer Service Has Become Heartless

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

Unfortunately, I think it's sadly true that "heartless" is an apt description of air carriers' customer service these days. (And is not even limited to this industry.)

 

Airlines lost huge amounts of money due to the pandemic, and it may be years until they recover, so management has dis-empowered their CS/CR reps in efforts to staunch the bleeding. (Not meant as a justification, just an explanation.) Southwest did offer some covid accommodations earlier in the pandemic, but those ended months ago. It's unfortunate that you received confusing messaging from your inquiries, as that just adds insult to injury. Ongoing changes to Southwest's customer assistance departments may be partly to blame. At this point, I'd assume your funds will expire in October. But I'd also go ahead and try once again, this time sending a snail-mail letter. Explain the situation as briefly as possible, include copies of the replies you've received and make your request clear.

 

If you haven't heard back within 6 months after the funds expire, you may have one other option at that point. Reach out to Customer Relations and request your expired funds be reissued as a voucher. If granted, you'll be charged a fee of $100 per travel fund/person (deducted from each fund's balance). Depending on the amount of your funds this may or may not be a viable option. The vouchers can be used by anyone and are valid for 6 months from the date of issue. The request must be made within 6 months of the funds' expiration.

 

Good luck.

 

Southwest Airlines

P.O. Box 36647-1CR
Dallas, Texas 75235

 

Contact Customer Relations 

Re: Southwest Customer Service Has Become Heartless

robegan
New Arrival

If this is what SWA has become, I will never fly them again.  I have had many airlines, including SWA in the past 15 years, work to help my family when my medically fragile kid ended up in the hospital and our flight needed to be cancelled and rescheduled.  We have had to travel over 30 times to children’s hospitals all over the USA for surgeries.  We were always running into extended hospitalizations due to complicated recoveries from surgery and infection.  We could always count on airlines helping us out, as families in special circumstances.  Sad that things have changed.  Glad to see so many people on this forum running to defend SWA latest position for families such as mine (sarcasm).  I hope you don’t find yourself in my situation, throwing away $1,300 or more every time your child’s hospitalization causes a cancellation in flights (sincerity).  Not everyone can afford to pay for refundable flights each time.  I am sure others have already found out what I just did about this community, it is filled with SWA employees or fanboys.  I will not post here again.

Re: Southwest Customer Service Has Become Heartless

TheMiddleSeat
Top Contributor

@robegan Disagreeing with your opinion does not make anyone here a "fanboy", it just shows you have an unpopular opinion.  Did you expect everyone to completely agree with you and say that "yes, this one person is super special and deserves exceptions to all the rules"?  You were offered some advice on how to handle expired travel funds, hopefully that helps.  Good luck with your travel in the future.

 

--TheMiddleSeat

Re: Southwest Customer Service Has Become Heartless

parpitt1
Active Member

Best of luck to you in your future travels. Community members offering solutions to your concerns doesn't make them fanboys or employees it makes them members of a community trying to offer solutions. "Expecting" exceptions to a company's policies is not a good way to got through life no matter what you or your family's specific afflictions are. 

Re: Southwest Customer Service Has Become Heartless

CupCrusher40
Active Member

best wishes to her health 

Re: Southwest Customer Service Has Become Heartless

MNhappy
Active Member

The best way to get refundable fares on Southwest is to purchase or earn points. When a points booking is cancelled, all the points are immediately returned.