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MAX Summer Schedule Revision: An Update from Our President Tom Nealon

TomNealon Employee
Employee

I want to take a moment to provide an update on our current plans surrounding the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. As you might know, Southwest removed the MAX from service on March 13, 2019.

 

Our Teams are working to further increase the Reliability of our schedule and reduce the amount of last-minute flight changes—especially during the upcoming summer travel season. With that in mind, we’ve now modified our schedule through August 5, 2019 to add further stability for Customers booking their summer travel.

 

While the timing for the return to service of the MAX remains unclear, what is very clear is our commitment to operate a reliable schedule and provide the famous Customer Service you expect from us. Our revised summer schedule allows us to accomplish those objectives. 

 

The limited number of Customers, who have already booked their travel and will be affected by this amended schedule, are being proactively notified so that we can reaccommodate their flight plans well in advance of their travel date.

 

While the vast majority of our Customers' itineraries have remained unaffected, flight schedule changes have inconvenienced some of our valued Customers, and, for that, I offer my sincerest apologies. 

 

Safety has always been our most sacred responsibility to both our Employees and our Customers, and we will continue to remain in full compliance with all FAA directives and any additional requirements necessary to return this aircraft to service.

 

Again, our goal is to deliver the excellent Customer Service that you’ve come to know and expect from us and we remain steadfastly committed to that. We will continue to keep you informed of any new developments, and we invite you to visit Southwest.com for the latest updates.

 

Thanks for your patience and understanding during this time, and please know that the entire Southwest Team looks forward to serving you soon.

 

Tom

21 Comments
jennilovesbarry
New Arrival

I was one of the customers affected by the change in schedules and had my tickets re-booked.  While I wasn't happy that I had a flight change, I'm happy that you are putting safety first and the staff were extremely professional and helpful when I asked them to re-book to a non-stop flight.  Your long standing history of consistent customer service has created loyalty.  I'm sorry YOUR staff had to deal with the inconvenience and just so you know, I'm a customer for life...

cdewalt
New Arrival

Hello, Southwest and Tom Nealson,

 

My high school group too one of those affected by the grounding of the Max 8s.  My issue was that I was on a high school broadcasting trip and our return flights were canceled.  I did receive a phone call from Southwest but, it while we were in the air flying to our conference on the West Coast.   We were scheduled to return to the east coast on Monday morning.   I did not get an email on my school account nor did I get another phone call.   When I went to check-in on our flights on Sunday early morning and discovered that all the flights were canceled!    The only flight we could be put on was on the upcoming Friday of that week.  As you can imagine, I am on the west coast with 14 high school kids and two instructors and no hotels or food arrangements for an additional week.  Because of the flights and issues Southwest I was left with no choice but to get the kids on another flight with a different carrier.  This cost my school an additional $7,900.00 (once refund is applied) on a trip we did not have the school funds to cover.  We did make it home safe but now the school are stuck with cost we did not expect.  In fact it may cancel our next years trips as will not have any budget unless we can raise the funds to cover the overages.  

I know that all this is not totally on Southwest shoulders but I wish there was a way to clear up this issue.   We have always flown Southwest with out kids "twice a school year" as the staff is very friendly, its not over priced to where the students cannot afford it and our bags fly free!!!  I just wish there was an easy way to fix my school budget now. Smiley Sad . Thanks for understanding Tom.  

Dgreenwald18
New Arrival

What is the time frame for being notified. We are flying in late May to my step-daughters wedding. We have activities immediately upon arrival and can not afford to be re-scheduled last minute. Emailed customer service and waiting for a response, but really need to lock this down.

 

thank you


@TomNealon wrote:

I want to take a moment to provide an update on our current plans surrounding the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. As you might know, Southwest removed the MAX from service on March 13, 2019.

 

Our Teams are working to further increase the Reliability of our schedule and reduce the amount of last-minute flight changes—especially during the upcoming summer travel season. With that in mind, we’ve now modified our schedule through August 5, 2019 to add further stability for Customers booking their summer travel.

 

While the timing for the return to service of the MAX remains unclear, what is very clear is our commitment to operate a reliable schedule and provide the famous Customer Service you expect from us. Our revised summer schedule allows us to accomplish those objectives. 

 

The limited number of Customers, who have already booked their travel and will be affected by this amended schedule, are being proactively notified so that we can reaccommodate their flight plans well in advance of their travel date.

 

While the vast majority of our Customers' itineraries have remained unaffected, flight schedule changes have inconvenienced some of our valued Customers, and, for that, I offer my sincerest apologies. 

 

Safety has always been our most sacred responsibility to both our Employees and our Customers, and we will continue to remain in full compliance with all FAA directives and any additional requirements necessary to return this aircraft to service.

 

Again, our goal is to deliver the excellent Customer Service that you’ve come to know and expect from us and we remain steadfastly committed to that. We will continue to keep you informed of any new developments, and we invite you to visit Southwest.com for the latest updates.

 

Thanks for your patience and understanding during this time, and please know that the entire Southwest Team looks forward to serving you soon.

 

Tom



@TomNealon wrote:

I want to take a moment to provide an update on our current plans surrounding the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. As you might know, Southwest removed the MAX from service on March 13, 2019.

 

Our Teams are working to further increase the Reliability of our schedule and reduce the amount of last-minute flight changes—especially during the upcoming summer travel season. With that in mind, we’ve now modified our schedule through August 5, 2019 to add further stability for Customers booking their summer travel.

 

While the timing for the return to service of the MAX remains unclear, what is very clear is our commitment to operate a reliable schedule and provide the famous Customer Service you expect from us. Our revised summer schedule allows us to accomplish those objectives. 

 

The limited number of Customers, who have already booked their travel and will be affected by this amended schedule, are being proactively notified so that we can reaccommodate their flight plans well in advance of their travel date.

 

While the vast majority of our Customers' itineraries have remained unaffected, flight schedule changes have inconvenienced some of our valued Customers, and, for that, I offer my sincerest apologies. 

 

Safety has always been our most sacred responsibility to both our Employees and our Customers, and we will continue to remain in full compliance with all FAA directives and any additional requirements necessary to return this aircraft to service.

 

Again, our goal is to deliver the excellent Customer Service that you’ve come to know and expect from us and we remain steadfastly committed to that. We will continue to keep you informed of any new developments, and we invite you to visit Southwest.com for the latest updates.

 

Thanks for your patience and understanding during this time, and please know that the entire Southwest Team looks forward to serving you soon.

 

Tom


 

milgirl_79
New Arrival

I too was affected by this change. I worked so hard to coordinate flights that would work for me and my sister who lives on the other side of the country. We are having a big celebration in Las Vegas and then we leave there to go visit our father in San Antonio. They wanted to change the flight from 12:05 p.m. to 7:55 a.m. leaving Las Vegas. It was supposed to be a non-stop flight. Now, we have a layover in Dallas for 1.5 hours and instead of us getting in at 4:45 p.m., we are now getting in at 8:00 p.m. Then, Southwest  changed my sister's NON-STOP flight from San Antonio to LAX from 11:55 a.m. to 8:55 p.m.!!! I had to fix that one as well as the one leaving Las Vegas! I understand the whole 737 fiasco, but to take away the non-stop flights. Trying to change them not by a half hour, but by many, many hours? Granted, customer service was very helpful in getting these flights changed to what would work "better" for us; however, she never once apologized for the inconvenience. Not only did it affect mine and my sister's flights, it also affected by best friends flight who supposed to fly into San Antonio with us and then fly into Houston to go home. I get that safety is first, but where is our (meaning all customers affected) compensation for the huge inconvenience? Isn't it recognized at all that the original flights chosen were chosen for a reason?? Plans have been made around the original times. Now, those plans have had to change. Now our non-stop flights have turned into layovers! I heard that some people are getting charged more because of using older planes and the fuel costs. Is that right? No!  I am a first time customer of Southwest, too and this is my first experience with them. Lovely.

nothappytony
New Arrival

Nice job: we went from 7+ hrs to 11+ hrs with two stops. Does wonders for circulation. Why at 75, do we have to pay for "TSA PRE" . It has been several flights of cattle call mazes and indignation. You guys have become too big, and popular ( and you can't handle it!!), and it is not fun any longer. Its a day long malaise of misery.

 

Masoodmem
New Arrival

Apologies are nice, but you should provide compensation instead of apologies alone. I too have had my journey time more than doubled by the cancellation of my direct flight and will now have the pleasure of waking up hours before the sun comes out in order to make the very long alternative itinerary that was rebooked for us work. 

 

I paid for a direct flight (at an increased price), and your company is no longer able to provide the product that I paid for, so I should be compensated.  It is as simple as that. Moreover, since I booked my flight months ago, your competitors offering direct flights have quadrupled their prices, so refunding my tickets isn’t a viable option either at this point. It may not be Southwest’s fault that Boeing designs its new aircraft so poorly, but it most certainly is not my fault either, so compensation should be offered for those significantly inconvenienced instead of empty apologies alone. 

bec102896
Rising Star

@Masoodmem 

 

I’m sorry your flight was affected by the MAX 8 grounding. I as another customer was affected as well but I know this is out of Southwest's control they didn't wake up in March and say let’s cancel over 100 flights a day and inconvenience a lot of people. The grounding of the MAX 8 was out of Southwest's control which is why they aren’t issuing compensation. If you are not satisfied with your new  itinerary you are able to make 1 change to your reservation free of charge. I recommend you look at the schedule and see if any other flights exist that would be better for you and then you can change online or by phone. 

Masoodmem
New Arrival

@bec102896 

 

Getting a refund from Southwest and rebooking a direct flight with a different airline for 5-8x the price at this late timepoint is not an economically viable solution. And Southwest itself does not have any flights that are suitable either. 

 

Again, the whole situation is unfortunate, and while it may not be Southwest’s fault, it certainly is not the fault of the affected passengers.  Customers simply are not being provided with the service that we have paid a premium for (ie. Direct flights), and this is not right. The way to rectify this would be to somehow compensate customers financially.  There really is no excuse for not doing so, other than the fact that airlines have no obligation to do so because the federal government unfortunately does not prioritize consumer rights in such circumstances. But that fact does not make refusing to compensate customers acceptable.  

Zipfactory
New Arrival

Professional traveler here. While every person affected has a unique situation, for those of us that travel A LOT (I have already secured A+ Preferred for 2020 and Companion Level will be earned soon.), complaining about missing a direct flight and having to make a connection seems petty. No matter your booking status (I am talking WannaGet Away level), you are allowed a free change. My advice? FIRST: Get on the app and see what’s available, take screenshots of your preferred itineraries. SECOND: Call the 800 number and speak to a friendly agent. BE NICE! They will appreciate that you’ve done some researching in advance. Trust me. PRO TIP: If you are kind and accommodating, the agent has the ability to waive fees! Everyone needs to take a deep breath - SWA hates this MAX problem more than we do. Being pissy won’t help anyone. After all, it is about OUR safety. 

bec102896
Rising Star

@Zipfactory 

 

I agree with you 100%!

 

Being patient and nice is key the airline doesn’t want to cancel these flights and alter others but they kind of have no choice. Screaming and whining to a rep on the phone, getting mad at the rep on Twitter, or bashing the airline online for something out of Southwest’s control will not help or fix anything. 

 

Thank you for being so understanding I know the airline appreciates it! 

Blake 

patroclus
New Arrival

The max8 incidence is also not the fault of the consumer. It is southwest who is not meeting their end of the bargain when they sold consumers airline seats. The burden therefore should be on southwest to absorb the cost of what happened, not the consumer. It is not enough that southwest is re-scheduling all these flights.  Southwest should at the very least compensate consumers the difference between the new flights and the original ones since a majority of the new flights are inferior and of lower value than the original ones purchased. 

dixiechick
New Arrival

How can we tell what equipment is scheduled for our flight? We are flying out on June 8 from Indy to Phoenix. We really need as much advance warning as possible so our work schedules can be adjusted and we can make alternate travel arrangements as this affects our whole group of 15 people.

Zipfactory
New Arrival

I use ‘FlightView’. Here’s a sample screen shot. Hope it helps.

 

143E7A2C-3377-4C65-83FA-6DBAFB82EDDB.png

 

NashFlyer
New Arrival

I am among those who think that you have failed to meet any of your core values or live up to your mission statement. My July 4th flight was cancelled - I bear ZERO responsibility for this cancellation - I booked a flight you advertised and paid the going fare. I do not run Boeing nor do I run SW - I am simply a passenger on your planes. 

 

My only viable options are to rebook a day early which will cost me additional money for a hotel and an added car rental day or take a flight with a layover (NOT the product I purchased) and arrive later in the day requiring me to change my plans for July 4th - I waited 40 mins to speak with your executive level customer service to see what you would do to help me. The response was a very polite "pound sand" from a supervisor who told me she "spoke for the CEO". She also told me she had the FINAL say on this matter.

 

The dollar amount is nominal, unlike the poor HS above that is losing thousands of dollars but the response speaks volumes about your airline. It seems to me that your logo, mission and values are all things you pay a marketing firm lots of money to make look attractive then file away until the winds change and you need to look pretty again. You could have offered me a travel credit or even a 50% credit but you choice of zero speaks for itself.

 

For want of a small credit to offset my actual expenses you have lost a significant portion of my future travel business to your competitors. I will no longer look at SW except on routes where you are the sole non-stop provider of service and then I will book with great fear that you will once again cancel my flight and offer me a bag of sand.

 

I guess it was inevitable that you sold out your customers for your shareholders like the rest of your competition did long ago. I begrudginlgy tolerated all of the fees you have added and steadily increased over the past few years as the cost of doing business. I even tolerated paying to go from A25ish to A45ish on most flights treating it as the cost of the bag I pay to check on other airlines. Now, however, you have taken an opportunity to do right by people inconvenineced by a random algorithm and done nothing but treat us like a booking record that needs to be shuffled. The problem you are solving is not a shortage of planes due to a grounding, it's a shortage of customer service and a "dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit". Sadly, while the former as not in your control the latter was 100% within your wheelhouse and you failed.

 

It might be time you called Madison Avenue to design a logo without a heart in it since somewhere along the way you lost yours. After reading Herb's obitiuary last month when I flew, it's clear to me his spirit has left the building.

LaVagabonde
New Arrival

Another inconvenienced flyer from the schedule changes here.  We booked direct flights months ago at times that worked well for our other travel accomodations and personal plans and now have non-direct flights that are not as convenient (and like others have pointed out... although we had a choice months ago when we booked, there are no affordable alternatives now).  At least we caught the fact that you were in the process of changing my originating flight to the next day and were able to **bleep** that in the bud.  Flying from Florida to California in time to miss my grandson's birthday party would have been a REALLY bad situation. 

However, with new (albeit, non-direct) flights now at least booked on the same days (and my husband and I back on the same flights), the policy that really pains us is your cancellation of the Early Bird service that we booked months ago.  Sure, you're refunding the funds and I have the "opportunity" to rebook Early Bird, but as it says on your website, "Boarding positions are assigned based on the time stamp of the EarlyBird Check-In purchase relative to passengers within the same fare class."  So, not only was the primary product we originally purchased downgraded (from direct flights to non-direct), doing a replacement purchase of Early Bird also provides us a less valuable service for the same price.  I'm losing the boarding priority of having booked months ago even if I purchase Early Bird again.  We kept the same reservation number when the flight changes were made by Southwest, so how hard it is to keep the Early Bird purchase intact with the original purchase date attached to the reservation instead of canceling/refunding it and making us book it again?  There is an obvious solution for this for the future:  I would strongly suggest that you have your programmers make a software change to allow a reservation to keep a previous Early Bird purchase wtih the original purchase date when a flight change is initiated by Southwest.  This way, you're not hitting your customers with a double whammy when you change their long-booked scheduled flights.

LaVagabonde
New Arrival

Oh, geez... you really bleeped out a common phrase that was NOT an obscenity of any sort?  Your programmers also need to work on your censorship algorithms.  Smiley Very Happy

LaVagabonde
New Arrival

Oh, and so no one thinks I'm not concerned about safety, we did check which type of plane was scheduled for our flights PRIOR to the grounding to ensure they were not scheduled for a 737 Max, and they weren't.  Changing our reservations was apparently the result of a trickle down effect from other flights being cancelled I guess.  The one very obviously fixable item for the future is changing the policy (and the programming) regarding the cancellation of Early Bird when the airline, not the passenger, initiates a change.  I will send that suggestion to the official Southwest link that folks have so helpfully shared thoughout a number of the discussion topics.

BoulderDee
New Arrival

Notification of May 6 flight cancellation due to 737Max problem  was given only 7 hours ahead of flight. This is not adequate. We all agree with safety being the number one priority, but flight cancellations need to be made far enough in advance to allow travelers to adjust their plans. Less than a day is not adequate. One needs to be able to assess whether or not the change in schedule so diminishes the utility of the trip that the entire trip should be cancelled or rescheduled at an entirely different date. The notification should be given prior to the outbound trip, or at least several days in advance.

 

Further, when the traveler has paid a premium for a direct flight and now is traveling a multistop itinerary, there should be compensation. 

Jean_Jasinski
New Arrival

I, too, have not felt the LUV with 2 last-minute cancellations (on my last 5 trips) and feel like "putting the customer first" is lip-service.  Yes, it would cost Southwest money and profits to compensate customers for the inconvenience of rerouting (longer flight, lost time) but even a $50 LUV voucher towards future travel if your arrival is >2 hours later and $100 if more than a day late would go a long way towards maintaining your image as the airline who LUVs customers.  Being told by customer service that "there will be no fare change" like it's a big deal is like rubbing salt in a wound.

 

My biggest concern is that this becomes the "new normal"  for Southwest.  After 9/11, the airlines who used to serve meals stopped free meals, and pillows/blankets disappeared from domestic flights.  While Southwest never offered these amenities, the other airlines used the tragic disruption of 9/11 to increase their profitability.  When CEO Kelly proudly says the airlines maintained the same left of profitability as the year before despite the disruption, he is really saying that Wall Street matters more than the Southwest brand and customer loyalty.   It may take a while before Southwest realizes the damage their LUVless policy has caused.  Go after Boeing for lost profitability--don't compromise what made Southwest one of the most LUVed airlines.

Bos502002
New Arrival

Hey Tom, show some LUV and call me and help me get my family back to the US. If the schedules have been changed since 4-11-19, why am I currently stranded in Costa Rica with a less than 24 hour cancellation of flight notice and being told it's due to the 737 max 8 issue?? Waited on hold over 2 hours for three different calls to get "email us when you get home"! Lol That is the absolute worst thing I've ever heard.  No solution just "good luck". Customer service apparently cannot call people back. They won't even take your number. That's crazy. 

Deebelle52
New Arrival

 


On Dec 24, 2018 I booked 2 SW flights #3813 Atl>Bos arriving in Boston on 5/5/19 at 11:25am to later take a Virgin Atlantic Flight from Boston to London. This was a trip I had been planning with my 2 grandchildren for a year...a college graduation celebration.....one grandchild accompanied me from Atlanta and the other we were meeting in Boston (where he lives) to fly to London. Less than 24 hours before our flight from Atlanta was to leave (8:45am),  I received a message from SW that Flight #3813 had been cancelled due to MAINTENANCE/MECHANICAL issues (a Max 8 , I assume). In a panic I called SW, held 10 minutes and spoke to an agent that put me on hold to find a resolution when we were disconnected!!! Another 10 minutes wait had me talking to Lou, who informed me that the next SW flight was Atl>St Louis>(???)>Boston and had me arriving in Boston at 10:55pm (35 minutes AFTER my VA flight to London!!). When I asked what I should do, he had no solution and offered ABSOLUTELY no help!!!

In an even bigger panic, I called Delta and booked Flight #1538 with a very sympathetic agent but unfortunately at $713. for 2 last minute flights! I had to charge these flights on a credit card that I was going to charge our 2 weeks expenses in London and Paris!

I know you are hoping this is the end of my story, as am I,  but the horror continues as I tell you that unbelievably on the return trip to Atlanta my bag was lost (my granddaughter got hers, we checked in and tagged our bags at the same time) and 14 days later as I am sending this email, I still don't have it!!

I don't guess I need to tell you how many calls I've made on this!!!

This is my first experience with SW and I had heard that your airline values its customers....but l say that YOUR company has single handedly turned this 67 year old grandmother's dream trip with her grandchildren into her worst nightmare!!