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Why doesnt SWA honor their policies on late flights?

New Arrival

I just got home, about an hour late on Flight 207 tonight. SWA is supposed to have a policy that if a flight is going to be very late that you can book another flight without charge. But that isnt happening, at least in this case. My flight was a continuation of the same plane that was flying HNL to Oakland. Apparently the flight was having a mechanical problem, specifically the pilots seat had a problem I was told. This wasnt a sudden discovery on the ground in Oakland--they knew this either at the time the flight was oringinating in HNL or midflight (as the cabin person said--"oh we knew about this..."). Instead of letting everyone know that the flight had a mechanical problem and would need to be repaired on the ground in Oakland with expected delays, and then allow people to book the flight an hour before without charge, SWA still stated that the flight was on time and therefore in order to take the our earlier flight you would need to pay the fare difference. SWA (or at least part of SWA) knew the plane had mechanical issues, but for whatever reason the gate agents werent told in Oakland. We ended up being an hour late, but I didnt have to be. I could have simply gone and taken the 530 pm flight--but the gate agent didnt know what others at SWA knew that the flight had a mechanical issue. No one is expecting nor should get "special treatment"--if you want to chg flights you need to pay the fare difference. And planes get mechanical issues. That happens. These planes get a lot of use and kudos to SWA to keep everything fixed. But, if SWA knew the mechanical problem, and yes they knew it, why wasnt SWA tellling the gate agent so people like me could have a chance to get to get home on time. No special favors, just try to honor the policies on late flights and get me home not an hour late. What could I have done to avoid this? Gate agent says the flight is going to be on time--people knew (except the gate agent) that the plane had mechanical issues. What other steps could I have taken? (and the bigger question is why dont the gate agents keep track of what is happening with the incoming flight if it has mechanical issues already?) thanks

6 REPLIES 6
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Re: Why doesnt SWA honor their policies on late flights?

New Arrival

@steveGS wrote:

I just got home, about an hour late on Flight 207 tonight. SWA is supposed to have a policy that if a flight is going to be very late that you can book another flight without charge. But that isnt happening, at least in this case. My flight was a continuation of the same plane that was flying HNL to Oakland. Apparently the flight was having a mechanical problem, specifically the pilots seat had a problem I was told. This wasnt a sudden discovery on the ground in Oakland--they knew this either at the time the flight was oringinating in HNL or midflight (as the cabin person said--"oh we knew about this..."). Instead of letting everyone know that the flight had a mechanical problem and would need to be repaired on the ground in Oakland with expected delays, and then allow people to book the flight an hour before without charge, SWA still stated that the flight was on time and therefore in order to take the our earlier flight you would need to pay the fare difference. SWA (or at least part of SWA) knew the plane had mechanical issues, but for whatever reason the gate agents werent told in Oakland. We ended up being an hour late, but I didnt have to be. I could have simply gone and taken the 530 pm flight--but the gate agent didnt know what others at SWA knew that the flight had a mechanical issue. No one is expecting nor should get "special treatment"--if you want to chg flights you need to pay the fare difference. And planes get mechanical issues. That happens. These planes get a lot of use and kudos to SWA to keep everything fixed. But, if SWA knew the mechanical problem, and yes they knew it, why wasnt SWA tellling the gate agent so people like me could have a chance to get to get home on time. No special favors, just try to honor the policies on late flights and get me home not an hour late. What could I have done to avoid this? Gate agent says the flight is going to be on time--people knew (except the gate agent) that the plane had mechanical issues. What other steps could I have taken? (and the bigger question is why dont the gate agents keep track of what is happening with the incoming flight if it has mechanical issues already?) thanks


I didnt want to mistate anything--the signs all said the flight on time--I didnt actually ask the gate agent--I was just looking at the sign (and the SWA website). 

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Re: Why doesnt SWA honor their policies on late flights?

Rising Star

I'm sorry you had a delay.  Been there!

 

Can you point me toward the policy you speak of about delayed flights?  And if I understand you correctly, the delay was just one hour, yes?

-A List Preferred, Companion Pass holder, Community Champion.
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Re: Why doesnt SWA honor their policies on late flights?

New Arrival

You know that is interesting--whenever I have been at the airport I have told if flight is late by a certain amount you can grab without charge an earlier flight. But I couldnt find it on their website. 


@elijahbrantley wrote:

I'm sorry you had a delay.  Been there!

 

Can you point me toward the policy you speak of about delayed flights?  And if I understand you correctly, the delay was just one hour, yes?


 

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Re: Why doesnt SWA honor their policies on late flights?

Rising Star

@steveGS Same here in that I don't think there is a policy on this.

 

I get your frustration...it is too bad you could not take an earlier flight.  And it sounds like there was a bit of a communication breakdown, which happens.

 

That said, I do understand the can of worms/logistical lift it could cause to try and move you (and then potentially most of the plane) to an earlier flight, especially in a short amount of time.  

 

Also, did you check a bag?  Going ahead of your bag presents a whole new challenge.

 

FWIW, Southwest does allow free standby for A List members, so in that case, A Listers can take earlier flights on the same day where seats are available for free.

-A List Preferred, Companion Pass holder, Community Champion.

Re: Why doesnt SWA honor their policies on late flights?

Top Contributor

The policy is included in Southwest's Contract of Carriage (pdf download). Accommodation for delayed flights is spelled out in multiple places, but significantly as shown below:

 

4. Tickets

a. Tickets

(4) Delays or Involuntary Cancellations. If a Passenger’s scheduled transportation is canceled, terminated, or delayed before the Passenger has reached his/her final destination as a result of a flight cancellation, Carrier-caused missed connection, flight delay, or omission of a scheduled stop, Carrier will either transport the Passenger at no additional charge on another of Carrier’s flights, refund the fare for the unused transportation in accordance with the form of payment utilized for the Ticket, or provide a credit for such amount toward the purchase of future travel.

 

With regards to a delay allowing standby on an earlier flight, I've found that this is very much up to the discretion of the agent, including the necessary length of delay to trigger. Also, it seems this is allowed less now following the change to allow A-Listers free anytime standby.

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Re: Why doesnt SWA honor their policies on late flights?

Active Member

@steveGS wrote:

SWA is supposed to have a policy that if a flight is going to be very late that you can book another flight without charge. 


I am not aware of such a policy. If the flight was cancelled that is a different story - but a late flight? Not sure. However, if your flight is delayed enough to cause a missed connection then they will proactively move you to a different flight to get you to your destination at no extra cost. 

 

--Jessica