Southwest

A large portion of my last post focused on the nightmare flight the day we returned from our cruise.  When I wrote it, some parts were still unresolved – our luggage was still in limbo.  I’ve reflected a lot on the last couple of days and have a lot of thoughts I need to unload – so, here I go!

When I fly, I always choose Southwest (unless they don’t fly into my destination city).  Reasons I love Southwest:

  • I usually find the best connections, service, and prices over any other airline. 
  • They don’t tend to have the delays other airlines do – they pretty much stay on schedule. 
  • If they do get off schedule, for whatever reason, they find a way to get back on track as much as possible. 
  • I have rarely, if ever, found a rude or un-accommodating Southwest employee. 
  • They only use full size jets – no puddle jumpers!!  Very important, since I don’t like flying on small planes!!
  • Most flight crews are very entertaining and make me laugh!!!

I do realize that, for the most part, Saturday’s events were out of Southwest’s control.  I was actually impressed by some of their actions and at least understood the rest.  I’ve been on canceled or diverted flights on other airlines and found the lack of communication and chaos in trying to get where I was going to be frustrating and unacceptable!  Southwest did a very good job with both those concerns!

  • They kept us informed.  The pilot and crew were honest with us and made sure we knew what was going on.  I’m not so sure the honesty was really all that reassuring at that point in time (I would have been just fine not knowing about the low fuel situation), but I do have to say we knew exactly what the situation was and why the pilot was making the decisions he was making!
  • Instead of waiting out the storm or heading to a closer airport, the pilot decided to go on to their next scheduled destination, which kept at least part of the passengers on schedule and in their planned destination!  Either of the other two options would have put us ALL way off track for both time and destination!
  • Within minutes of letting the passengers who were scheduled to be in Columbus off the plane, a Customer Service supervisor was on board making announcements about the arrangements that were being made for us.  He knew exactly where everyone’s final destination was and what we needed to do to get there!  There were a couple of destinations that they had immediate solutions for (thank goodness our’s was one) and they got us off the plane, rebooked, and on the next plane in what seemed like a flash of time!  
  • Even though some of the passengers were creating some chaos, if they had just taken a breath and listened (followed) the instructions being given, they would have realized it was actually very organized and professionally handled!

The only part I felt could have been handled better was the luggage situation!  I understand that everything in and out of Nashville was delayed, canceled, diverted, or something on Saturday because of the devastating thunderstorms and tornadoes they had.  So, that meant a very large number of bags that had to be pulled and rerouted in some way, shape, or form!  Our’s were just three out of probably hundreds!!!  We were told several things that ended up not being correct – probably because those who were relaying the info were basing it on what their procedures tell them should happen, but because of all the activity, didn’t happen!  Here’s what happened:

  • The Customer Service supervisor told us that the bags were being pulled and put on the same planes we were being rebooked on, so they would go with us — they didn’t!
  • When we arrived and found no bags, the lady in the baggage claim office told us that they were put on the next flight and would arrive at 9:30…which ended up being delayed until 10:00.  So, we waited and they didn’t come in on that flight, either!
  • She, then, said they went back to Nashville from Columbus and were on the next Nashville flight, but changed that info before we waited too long — she found out they would be on the one coming from Nashville at noon on Sunday, so we gave her the info needed to deliver them to us Sunday afternoon.
  • We got a call about 12:30 saying they weren’t on that flight, either, but there were two other flights from Nashville and they would be on one of them – but they finally admitted that they had no idea which one!
  • We got a call about 2:00 saying they had arrived and would be delivered later in the day!  They were delivered safe and sound about 6:00 or so!  YAY!!!

What I found out in all this was that the bar coding process has some kinks in it!  Bags are only scanned when they are in the terminal – first when they are put on the originating flight and then when they are unloaded to the baggage claim area in the final destination!  They don’t scan them when they transfer them from plane to plane……so,  that’s why they sometimes don’t know exactly where misdirected bags are for a while and, in this case in particular, there were so many being rerouted all over the country that it made it even more difficult!  But – I do have to say that of all the years I’ve flown on Southwest, I’ve only had my bags misdirected twice and both times they were hand delivered to me the next day and both times I was either home or at Mom’s, so it wasn’t like I was traveling on business with no clean clothes or necessary toiletries to get me by!  The first time, my bag was accidentally put on the wrong cart and loaded onto a plane that ended up in Los Angeles (I was going to Buffalo in a snow storm, so I think it was actually the bag that just decided to take the detour) – it was found that same day, rerouted to Buffalo and in my hands the next morning!  This time it was because of the weather crisis and among many others – it was found and in my hands the next afternoon!  I have heard many horror stories about bags that apparently went by way of the Bermuda Triangle and were never seen again or found days/weeks later!

So — all in all, I think Southwest handled a really horrifying and frustrating situation very well – or as well as they could, in the case of the misdirected luggage!  I hope I never have a flight that scary again…….but, if I do, I hope I’m on Southwest!

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