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DISCRIMINATION. Horrible Customer service. Boarding

Marcellus
New Arrival

My daughter's Senior Night basketball game was scheduled for January 31, 2019.  The game was cancelled and school closed due to Sub ZERO temperatures and was rescheduled for Feb 4, 2019.  I had to cancel all travel arrangements and rebook for the new date.   The only place I saw that could get me there was Southwest  with a flight leaving at 5:45AM with a connection and landing at 4:55PM, giving me plenty of time to get to my rental car and make the drive across town to make it to her game that started at 7:30PM.  

 

On Feb 4, 2019 I was supposed to board flight #1224 leaving (SEA) Seattle at 5:45 AM arriving to a connecting flight #1044 in (MDW) Chicago at 11:40 AM.  Flight #1044 was supposed to leave (MDW) Chicago at 2:45PM and reach my final destination in (CVG) at 4:55pm.

 

To start the day off, I arrive at the airport in Seattle at around 3:45AM because of inclimate weather.   I checked in just fine and the plane was boarded at the appropriate time.   At this point the whole experience went downhill.   From the time we boarded to the time we actually took off was about 5 hours due to needing to DE-ICE the plane.   Fine, I understand safety etc, but 5 hours sitting without the plane moving a single inch?  Only offering ice water?  I don't know policy, but if the plane was not ready to go anytime soon, why even board?  Once the crew realized the plane was not ready after boarding, why didn't they allow passengers to get off.  We had to sit there with the seatbelt sign on.   Frustrating as that was, I realized I was going to miss my connecting flight so I called a friend of mine and work to get my connecting flight rescheduled for a later time.   

 

The next flight leaving Chicago was #0516 leaving (MDW) at 4:50pm and arriving at (CVG) 7:00pm.   I needed to be in Cincinnati at 7:30, so I was going to be late.  I accepted it and moved forward knowing there wasn't anything I could do about it and was just happy I could get to see a part of my daughter's last home game of high school.  

 

 While on the plane I ask the attendant how long do you have before boarding is closed and you won't be able to board your connecting flight, being hopeful that I would just make it and could run to my gate and get aboard my initial connection.  It wasn't the case as my flight from Seattle landed over an hour late.  Upon arrival, I turned my phone back on and saw the new itinerary, checked gate and departure time.  Seeing that I had a few minutes and I hadn't eaten all day, been sitting strapped to a plane for over 7hrs, committed to this trip for over 9 hours so far, I obviously needed to quickly grab something to eat and use the restroom before I boarded my next flight.   

 

Southwest was nice enough to proactively email me a "LUV" voucher for $100 because of the delay.  

 

After I got myself together I **bleep** near sprinted all the way across the airport to where my plane was boarding arriving 20 minutes prior to departure.   Upon arrival the gate agent tells me that he "just" closed boarding and he couldn't let me on the plane.   He rudely and this is exactly what he said "Boarding is closed, go see customer service and reschedule for another flight".   I asked him why he couldn't reopen if he "just closed"  and the insisted "go see customer service"  Knowing that he was able to reopen the gates if he just closed them, I asked him to call customer service and talk to them because I was not willing to go where ever he was trying to send me to while the only thing keeping me from my child was right in front of me.   I tried to explain to him the reason I was even on this flight was because the plane before hand was delayed 5 hours, this is already a rescheduled flight and the only one that can get me to my destination close to being on time.

 

The gate attendant then says....I was going to open the gate for you but since you are giving me attitude I wont now"   I **bleep** NEAR LOST MY MIND.   I took a second calmed myself down and walked over to customer service and explained what was happening and they looked over at the guy and shook their head...as if they knew he was in the wrong.   They then reinforced him saying, if he says that boarding is closed and wont reopen the gates, there's nothing we can do about it here.  I asked if he could have opened the gates and they said if he just closed them, yes he can.  "we can put you on the 9:xx flight out of here and you will arrive in (CVG) around 11:xxPM"......   

 

Plane still sitting there, not moving a single inch, daughter calling me and I'm sending her to voicemail avoiding having to tell her that bad news until I absolutely had to.  

 

Unacceptable, I went back over to the gate and asked to speak to his supervisor.  At this time I had taken a phone call and the person on the phone was listening to the transaction.   I asked the supervisor why he couldn't open the doors since he actually closed boarding well before he should have.   The supervisor goes on to tell me the attendant couldn't open it now since the plane was set to leave in just a few minutes.   Mind you, up to this point over 15 minutes has went by, and the plane was still sitting there, gate still attached to the side, and when i first arrived he "just closed boarding"    I asked his supervisor why 15 minutes ago when I first arrived at the gate he couldn't let me on...and that his reasoning was because I gave him attitude.   His supervisor looked at him in pure shock and the gate attendant just sat there and rolled his eyes and chuckled.   The upervisor apologized and suggested I go see customer service.

 

At this point I start asking the gate attendant why even tell me you could have, when your supervisor says you couldn't, why even use a perceived attitude as a reason, when you were unwilling to do anything anyhow.  At this point the attendant is **bleep** near laughing in my face.  Now furious, and not wanting to be a casualty of over heightened airport security, I walked over to customer service and get a ticket to come back to Seattle.  There was no point to go the rest of the trip arriving at 11:xxPM, going to my hotel and leaving back to the airport at 4:45AM, going through security and leaving on my flight home at 6:50AM.  Finally arriving back home in Seattle at 11:35AM, or 2:35PM originating airport time.  

 

About 10 minutes later I watch the plane pull away......................

 

First note, Now, as the person on the phone can and will testify to, it really seemed like what we were hearing was discrimination.  Yes I am a Black man, and without a shadow of a doubt I know that if it were possible for him to open the gates, he would have it I were of another ethnicity.  I can provide several references attesting to the fact that I am the most laid back easy going calm people you would meet.  Probably due to my role in the community as a youth program coach/manager of several programs.  References of people knowing I will do anything in my power to ensure a positive outcome for anyone around me.  So, an attitude?  Why?  I have no reason to get an "attitude"  with anyone.  I wasn't mad at him because it wasn't his fault my flight got delayed.    

 

Secondly the total lack of customer care was just astounding.  If he couldn't, just say that. Don't play silly games with customers, especially at a airport.  You don't know what the person has went through, and the customer shouldn't have to worry about if your attendant is having a bad day ETC.  I paid for a service and the whole experience was unsatisfactory.  There were circumstances that were initially out of the airlines control initially, but the end result was totally avoidable.

 

This will be posted on twitter, instagram, facebook, news outlets and not limited to legal counsel looking further into discrimination.  Especially given Southwest airlines track record with discrimination issues.  

13 REPLIES 13

Re: DISCRIMINATION. Horrible Customer service. Boarding

dfwskier
Rising Star

Well, it sounds as though you had a pretty bad experience. Sorry.

 

I'd suggest that you complain to the airline. To do so click on contact us at the bottom of this page, and then pick your contact method from those listed at the top left of the ensuing page. You might want to just cut and paste your post into an e-mail. I make the suggestion because this is a customer forum, and your complaint is not liklely to be solved here.

 

Several point for me to make:

 

1) Southwest has a large number of black, hispanic, and other minority employees, so Southwest doesn't discriminate. Could the employee that gave you a hard time have been discriminating? Yeah, that's possible, but I hope not. Be sure to put that person's name in your e-mail.

2) If the door to the aircraft really closed 20 minutes prior to flight time, something is wrong.

Southwest says if you are not at the gate 10 minutes before flight time, then your reservation could be cancelled. That should not have happened.

3)Typically, once the door to the aircraft has been closed, it stays closed. I think that I've only seen one exception to that in the hundreds of flights I've taken in my lifetime across a bunch of different airlines..

4)As for why you might have been forced to sit on a plane for an extended period, I can only guess. First guess: a series of problems each of which was unanticipated while the previous one was worked on. Second guess: it took longer to fix something than they thought it would. Third guess:a fear of losing a designated take off slot. It might take 20 minutes to reboard the entire plane, and if the designated slot was missed, there might be a long wait for a new one.

 

All I can say is that I would have hated it, if it had been me and not you.  

Re: DISCRIMINATION. Horrible Customer service. Boarding

Marcellus
New Arrival

From my facebook copy and paste of this:

 

Carmen G. Wow Marcellus, first that’s really messed up that you had this experience. I’ve known you for a few years and I’d agree that you are decent, logical, and understanding in your communications. What angered me most about your post is the employee initially telling you no, then saying he would’ve let you by if not for your “attitude”?! What kind of company allows that kind of behavior of their employee directly to a customer or at all? Years ago, I had a layover leaving LaGuardia airport to ATL, then from ATL, I was to fly to NC. Due to our plane arriving late because of layover, the employee called the terminal and had them wait a few extra minutes for us to run there. As you know, ATL ‘s airport is HUGE! I believe that was Delta airlines. I’m appalled at Southwest Airline’s actions being that we are supposed to be professionals at our workplace. This is not the first time a plane has needed to be de-iced, not the first time that any airline has experienced layovers. So, in addition to their poor customer service, it seems their system of issue resolution needs a lot of work. Its also easy to see this as discriminatory, based on how that employee addresses you. Of course he was aware of layovers, which of course should’ve prompted him to think of customers being later than usual to the gate. I’ve heard things about Southwest Airlines before and though I’ve never used them, this experience coming from someone I know and trust will ensure that I won’t use them or advise anyone else, unless they can regroup and move forward with better service all around. I’m sorry you had this experience.

Re: DISCRIMINATION. Horrible Customer service. Boarding

Marcellus
New Arrival

I definitely did my research before posting.  Its not uncommon for and airline to reopen the doors.  It is uncommon for an airline tro have random times they would like to close boarding.  While I was sitting there, the next person managing the gate paged an customer several times that the plane was boarding and gate was closing....a courtesy I never recieved.  

 

I even found posts on this very forum about customers boarding planes after being closed in my very same circumstance.

Re: DISCRIMINATION. Horrible Customer service. Boarding

Cbekele
New Arrival

At dfwskier, You bring up alot of great points. Thank you for your feedback. Although Southwest Airlines has shown they do not discriminate by hiring minorities on a regular basis it was very clear the employee who handled this situation was very discriminatory against Marcellus. We have contacted Southwest Airlines Customer Relations Department  atleast 5 times since this incident occurred and their only remedy for this mistreatment and misconduct has been to put in a complaint and they said they would “do more employee training” to help their employees. That is very unacceptable and was simply a way to downplay the series of events and get us off the phone. 

 

As far as the gate closing 20 minutes prior to boarding that was also unacceptable and further more proves the man in charge of letting people on the plane discriminated against Marcellus for his personal reasons. 

 

 

Re: DISCRIMINATION. Horrible Customer service. Boarding

DancingDavidE
Top Contributor

That's a horrible story!

 

I don't think it's that common for the door to be re-opened. For whatever reason they decided to try and leave early, and the decision to do that would have been the driving factor. 

 

Whether discrimination or the gate agent just being a jerk to you (he could enjoy closing the door on people in general?) it's not the Southwest way to behave in the response. Although my own understanding of the situation is that it won't have been his decision to open the door - the captain and operations team would decide that, this guy just pulls the handle. 

 

Regardless of any of the circumstances, the taunting was not appropriate.

 

I wonder if there was also some complication from your rescheduled ticket that you couldn't get checked in. i.e. as you mentioned you would hear your name on the intercom if they were expecting you, but for some reason they thought they were good to go at more than 20 minutes early. But you also must have had a boarding pass, either from online check-in or stopping by a gate somewhere along the way?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.

Re: DISCRIMINATION. Horrible Customer service. Boarding

Marcellus
New Arrival

They emailed me a revised itinerary while i was in flight.   

 

The whole situation was explained over the phone, to the agent, and the on site customer service and supervisor.   They didn't even attempt to contact the captain or operations.

Re: DISCRIMINATION. Horrible Customer service. Boarding

spacecoastbill
Active Member

Exactly how do you extrapolate discrimination?

 

Exactly what discrimination are you alleging?  Age?  Sex?  Origin?  

 

Because in your entire long winded story, none of that is present.  You mention you are a black man, but there is nothing to indicate anyone discriminated against you for the color of your skin. 

 

Its not appropriate for you to put discrimination in caps in the thread title and say discrimination again in the rambling comment especially when there is zero evidence that there is any.

 

Its people throwing this word around that only weakens it for those who truly experience a genuine discrimination.

 

 

Re: DISCRIMINATION. Horrible Customer service. Boarding

Marcellus
New Arrival

In human social behavior, discrimination is treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction towards, a person based on the group, class, or category to which the person is perceived to belong. These include age, colour, criminal record, height, disability, ethnicity, family status, gender identity, generation, genetic characteristics, marital status, nationality, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. Discrimination consists of treatment of an individual or group, based on their actual or perceived membership in a certain group or social category, "in a way that is worse than the way people are usually treated". It involves the group's initial reaction or interaction going on to influence the individual's actual behavior towards the group leader or the group, restricting members of one group from opportunities or privileges that are available to another group, leading to the exclusion of the individual or entities based on illogical or irrational decision making.

 

-Wiki

 

enjoy your day sir

Re: DISCRIMINATION. Horrible Customer service. Boarding

spacecoastbill
Active Member

@Cbekele wrote:

At dfwskier, You bring up alot of great points. Thank you for your feedback. Although Southwest Airlines has shown they do not discriminate by hiring minorities on a regular basis it was very clear the employee who handled this situation was very discriminatory against Marcellus. We have contacted Southwest Airlines Customer Relations Department  atleast 5 times since this incident occurred and their only remedy for this mistreatment and misconduct has been to put in a complaint and they said they would “do more employee training” to help their employees. That is very unacceptable and was simply a way to downplay the series of events and get us off the phone. 

 

As far as the gate closing 20 minutes prior to boarding that was also unacceptable and further more proves the man in charge of letting people on the plane discriminated against Marcellus for his personal reasons. 

 

 


No, there is not one shred of anything that remotely shows anyone discriminated against anyone. 

 

Try facts instead of hyperbole.