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Worst flight experience of a Lifetime

Jbdmh45
New Arrival

Let me begin......on a family vacation to Visit my family in Cocoa Florida we chose to fly to Orlando using Southwest Airlines based on my family recommending thenand using them for many years.  We were scheduled to fly out back home to Columbus Ohio on July 22nd at 9:40pm.  We arrived at the airport at approximately 7:30pm to allow extra time and went through security no problem and were greeted by friendly courteous TSA associates.  Upon arriving at the Southwest Airlines gate 126 we took a seat and waited patiently for our flight.  With 15 minutes or flight was delayed until 9:55pm.  The southwest associate came over the speaker many times over the next few hours and the flight was delayed and delayed and finally the final time to depart was 2:00am.  As we waited with our three children (two small) we watched as almost every flight around us became delayed and eventually cancelled.  Some southwest flights were still coming and going and there was a thunderstorm passing through but planes were still able to take off and land all around us.  Upon checking the flight status boards most

other airlines continued to operate as scheduled and only southwest seemed to be having a major meltdown.  Many flights were canceled at no point did any southwest associate state that it was weather related.  Instead, multiple flights were cancelled and announced to customers that there were not enough staff to fly.  For example they only had two flight attendants or only one pilot therefore the flight would have to be cancelled.  Many people became stranded and upset and southwest service counters became flooded with long lines of passengers trying to get home.  They announced that you could wait in line for hours Trying to get a flight or they suggested calling the 800 customer service line to make arrangements. At approximately 1:55 our flight was cancelled that was delayed but scheduled to depart at 2:00am on 7/23/18.  We immediately became stranded as many others and were worried about finding our luggage, a hotel, and a way to get home to Ohio.  My wife called the 800 number at the next phase of waiting began.  We headed to the baggage claim and waited for any sign of our luggage.  Three hours later at approximately 5:00am our luggage came out on the carasel.  With our children sleeping on the dirty floor of the baggage claim we grabbed our luggage and then at the same time my wife finally hears a voice on the other end of the 800 customer service and begins to try and find a flight.  Three hours on hold, the southwest employee on the end of the phone says there are no flights that day and the only flight would be on Tuesday 7/24/18 and it’s was a connecting flight and we would have to drive to Tampa to depart.  We took this first flight that was available so we can get back to our lives in Ohio.  We have not flown out yet being this is Monday 7/23/18 so here may be another chapter to this horrible experience.  Now the ripple effect......the hotel in the airport was booked so we had to rent a car, find an open hotel, and lose another day of our lives back in Ohio due to this customer service disaster.  My wife is a nurse and I work in management and now we both had to call our employers and call off work for Tuesday 7/24/18.  Not only have we lost wages,  we had our dog  kenneled and had to extend his stay costing more money.  Our oldest son will miss his first day of drivers education as recently celebrated his 16th birthday and upon calling to notify them the have he has to now be rescheduled for six weeks later because we missed the first day.....very disappointed for him. My middle son will miss his first day of 7th grade football....we all know first impressions to coaches make a big difference and this isn’t a good one that is out of his control....poor kid.  My youngest will miss his final baseball game of the season.....again out of his control.   I realize all of these may seem material but here is my biggest issue with all of this.  I watched over the course of 10 hours in the southwest terminal as young children were exhausted, handicapped people in wheelchairs flying by themselves couldn’t be helped because there were not enough southwest employees to assist them, young travelers with limited funds and resources became stranded.  Most of the southwest employees stood by and did not offer updates, answers, and only said they didn’t know what was going on.  I walked up to southwest counter at one point that had two employees and barely any line at all to hear the southwest employees tell the customers that the could not help them as to “go somewhere else” because their shift ended in 10 minutes.  I am more than disappointed in this airline and disgusted by the poor level of customer service and nightmare that my family had to experience.  My wife cried her eyes out and my children were scared and mortified by this and will never want to fly again.  My entire family travels with southwest mainly because of the direct flights to Columbus but this will change.  I feel sorry for the many others who had to go through this as we did and hope that everyone makes it home safely and ok.  At this point southwest has not made this right and I don’t expect much of anything at this point.  Good luck to all of those who are stranded.

9 REPLIES 9

Re: Worst flight experience of a Lifetime

Passenger1C
Active Member

@Jbdmh45 you literally went through one of my worst nightmares. Feeling stranded and not knowing really is a worse case scenario. I am truly sorry about your experience and the downward spiral that took place from there. My suggestion to you since you did not have a great experience with calling SWA is to send them a DM via Twitter. I don’t know if there’s anything SWA can do for you since all the delays were weather related, but at least your voice will be heard.

 

The Southwest Airlines community site is for passengers speaking to other passengers. Good luck! 

 


SWA Passenger, Community Champion

Re: Worst flight experience of a Lifetime

Jbdmh45
New Arrival

Thanks for the kind words and support!  Just hope to get our family home soon.  I haven’t even got. Response from southwest yet and contacted customer support hours ago......very disappointing that good service is so difficult to find anymore.  Thanks again, travel safe!

Re: Worst flight experience of a Lifetime

Jbdmh45
New Arrival

So just a quick update.  We are finally home after spending another day in the airport and finally getting out of Orlando and back to Columbus.  The earliest flight we could get (2 days later from our original flight) was to Chicago and then changing planes and heading to columbus.   The flight out of Orlando left 32 minutes late and we barely made the connecting flight in time to head to Columbus but we are finally home sweet home.  The only response I have received from Southwest was an automated reply.  The reason listed for the flight 2967 being cancelled was explained as “unforeseen operational circumstances” by southwest.....whatever that means.  I posted my experience on Facebook on Southwest’s page and they removed it less than 30 minutes later......shocker!  So it appears that they are not going to call me back or even send me anything other than an automated response.....very disappointing.  The worst part of this entire thing is that my children all said they never want to fly again as this was their first trip and it was such a terrible experience.  I am in the customer service business and I would never treat anyone as I was treated on this trip and hope that Southwest takes my experience as a learning experience.  Thanks and  safe travels!

Re: Worst flight experience of a Lifetime

Passenger1C
Active Member

@Jbdmh45 so glad to hear that you and your family made it home safely. The experience is definitely one you and your family will never forget. As you said, you are in customer service, so you have high expectations and expect to be acknowledged. Don’t give up on contacting SWA. I am confident that once you get in contact with them, you will feel better about the nightmare you lived through. 

 

Best wishes, and glad you made it home. 

 


SWA Passenger, Community Champion

Re: Worst flight experience of a Lifetime

dfwskier
Rising Star

Sorry to hear about your continuing  bad eperience.

 

Been there, done that. A few years ago I was stranded in Denver as a res ult of thunderstorms rolling thru. I got rid of my rent car and went to the gate to wait for my flight. Flights were being cancelled all around me. My flight was delayed , then delayed more, then delayed even more, finally cancelled at 11:30 pm (6 hours after scheduled departure time). By  then all hotels near the airport were sold out (except the $400/night one), rent cars were going for $175. I got on the phone with SW and was told the earliest flight out was 22 hours later.

Then I got lucky, and someone cancelled a seat on the 5 a.m. departure while I was on the phone with SW.. The reservation agent grabbed it. I slept on the concourse floor, and started boarding at 4:30 am.

 

Unfortunely, when things start heading south, they keep heading further south. Federal rules about pilots and flight attendants maximium time on duty or in flight start kicking in, and crews are prohibited from flying. The excessive delays cause more and more crew members to "time out," and the airline runs out of people to fly the planes, causing even more cancellations. I ran into this, I suspect you did too.  So many passengers get displaced by cancelled flights that there is no way in the era of planes that fly out 85% full to get everyone accomodated in any kind of timely way. It happens to every airline, not that that is an excuse.

 

It is absolutely not fun. It is absolutely madening. It is absolutely frustrating, and unfortunely, there really is nothing you can do about it. The sad thing is that there are likely hundreds of others experiencing just wht you are experiencing. Sorry.

 

If you are still stranded in Orlando, you might see if SW can get you out of another airport. You might check orbitz or expedia to see if a different airline can get you out.

 

Sorry, but that's the best I can suggest for this awful situation.

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Re: Worst flight experience of a Lifetime

DancingDavidE
Top Contributor

@dfwskier wrote:

Sorry to hear about your continuing  bad eperience.

 

Been there, done that. A few years ago I was stranded in Denver as a res ult of thunderstorms rolling thru. I got rid of my rent car and went to the gate to wait for my flight. Flights were being cancelled all around me. My flight was delayed , then delayed more, then delayed even more, finally cancelled at 11:30 pm (6 hours after scheduled departure time). By  then all hotels near the airport were sold out (except the $400/night one), rent cars were going for $175. I got on the phone with SW and was told the earliest flight out was 22 hours later.

Then I got lucky, and someone cancelled a seat on the 5 a.m. departure while I was on the phone with SW.. The reservation agent grabbed it. I slept on the concourse floor, and started boarding at 4:30 am.

 

 



Our family was flying out of Orlando that day someone's camera battery exploded in their bag and they cleared the airport. We were just arriving to MCO and didn't hear anything about it unfortunately, dropped off the rental car....and pandemonium!

 

I had driven by the curbside checkin and there was a huge line - didn't realize that was the line for the check-in all of the way outside.

 

We were pretty significantly delayed as well, and I had to re-rent a car which was painful - it was eerie seeing the rental car level completely empty, but we did make it back one day later. Our destination being MDW we have a few more options than Columbus I'm sure. A few lessons learned for anyone reading this thread - not helpful to the OP going to Columbus now, but in general:

 

  1. Call-in times will be very long during a major weather event or catastrophe at a hub airport. Try the internet first - you may have a link waiting for you or use the general re-accomodation link to try for a new flight. If that isn't satisfactory...
  2. Get in line for an agent, but get on the phone too. Whichever connects first!
  3. The search by the agent or on the phone will show tickets for the number in your group. If time is of the essence and you can split up, tell Southwest that you can split up to take individual seats.
  4. You only get one re-accomodation for free - if you take the online one, then get in line and try to change again it may not be allowed. Remember, they are probably still working to reaccomodate everyone and letting you have two chances may not be possible. If it has quieted down a bit, the ticket agent may be more helpful. During the busiest time, get your best option and get out of the way.
  5. When I was in Orlando during the bomb scare, they weren't allowing Tampa as an alternate if I remember correctly although we were willing, but ask if there are other Southwest airports within driving distance and you have a rental car. Chicago/Milwaukee. Orlando/Tampa/Jacksonville, Reagan/BWI/Dulles for instance.

 

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

Re: Worst flight experience of a Lifetime

LindseyD
Retired Community Manager

@Jbdmh45,

 

First, I want to say I'm sorry - truly - for the overall experience you and your family had. It sounds like the ripple effects, like you said, were pretty significant. 

 

As you've seen, you will certainly find sympathetic ears here on the Community. We can all relate to the frustration of upended travel plans. That said, the Southwest Community is Customer-to-Customer forum, and the people who come here to share their knowledge, skills, and experience do not have the ability to help resolve Customer Service issues. On behalf of Southwest Airlines, we would really like an opportunity to address your concerns, we just aren't equipped to do it here. Please reach out to us on Twitter (@Southwestair) or through any of the other ways listed here.

 

 

Re: Worst flight experience of a Lifetime

Prodas1
New Arrival

@SouthwestAir Flt 2434 Shirley worst steward. Needed water she had a tray full she declined me I even went to her because I was asleep for 4 hours. Needed H20 she declined thank u steward in back for getting me one.  

Re: Worst flight experience of a Lifetime

dfwskier
Rising Star
Solution

@Prodas1 wrote:

@SouthwestAir Flt 2434 Shirley worst steward. Needed water she had a tray full she declined me I even went to her because I was asleep for 4 hours. Needed H20 she declined thank u steward in back for getting me one.  


Hello. Sorry to hear that you felt mistreated. Most travelers have positive interactions with employees

 

Since this is a cutomer to customer forum, you are unlikely to find resolution here. If you would like to lodge a complaint, you should contact the airline. Details on how to do this are at the top left of the contact us web page.

 

https://www.southwest.com/contact-us/contact-us.html?clk=GFOOTER-CUSTOMER-CONTACT-US

 

Be sure to mention the date of travel, flight number, departure and arrival airports, and the name of the offending employee.