Changes to the Flat Tire rule

Old Oct 17, 13, 3:30 pm
  #1  
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Changes to the Flat Tire rule

I missed my flight this morning and arrived to the airport about an hour later intending to use the flat tire rule.

The GA told me that there was a policy change about 1 month ago and now pax are required to call SW 10 minutes prior to their flight departure if they are going to miss their flight and want to invoke the flat tire rule. Her explanation was that if I miss the flight, my 'travel funds will be gone' and I will have to purchase a new full-price ticket. I asked her to check in the system, and she was able to 'locate my travel' funds without incident. I assumed this was just another case of GAs not being fully up-to-date on policy and that she was confused by the new policy regarding no-shows on WGA fares.

However, I asked a phone rep about it when I called to cancel a flight this afternoon and he confirmed what the GA told me without being prompted - the flat tire rule is still in place, but requires a phone call to SW 10 mins before departure.

I know I've successfully used the rule a few times since the policy change and remember seeing a thread on FT confirming this as well. Does anyone have any more data points?
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Old Oct 17, 13, 4:03 pm
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I think it takes a little while for your funds to get zeroed out after missing the flight.
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Old Oct 17, 13, 4:09 pm
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Originally Posted by redchilly View Post
I know I've successfully used the rule a few times since the policy change and remember seeing a thread on FT confirming this as well. Does anyone have any more data points?
I always thought the point of flat tire rules (for any airline) was to extend a courtesy to customers in unexpected/unusual/extreme circumstances. Out of curiosity, is there a reason you keep missing your flights?
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Old Oct 17, 13, 4:24 pm
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Southwestgabe's response to the flat-tire rule question when the no-show policy was announced was :

Customer Service Agents will work with Customers on a case-by-case basis if they miss a flight due arriving late to the airport.
Which means, basically, that you shouldn't take for granted the flat-tire rule anymore.

Hopefully GA's have been trained that the no-show policy shouldn't be applied in cases where circumstances outside the pax control cause them to miss the flight, and they are at the airport within two hours of original departure time. But I suspect it's all up to the GA's discretion, ultimately. <rolls eyes>
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Old Oct 17, 13, 4:27 pm
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Originally Posted by dw View Post
I always thought the point of flat tire rules (for any airline) was to extend a courtesy to customers in unexpected/unusual/extreme circumstances. Out of curiosity, is there a reason you keep missing your flights?
You're right that I'm abusing the policy to some degree. I booked all of my tickets several months before my class schedule got settled for the quarter with the assumption that my classes would start earlier than they do.

When I miss my flight, I'm flying standby (on half-empty flights) and not jumping fare buckets (all morning tickets have the same cost), so I'm not hurting SW's bottom line. Hence, I figure it's in that ambiguous moral grey-area to occasionally sleep in on the mornings of my Thursday commute. That being said, if SW is getting stricter about the rules, I'll take the early flights and won't complain.
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Old Oct 17, 13, 4:32 pm
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I'm not sure if this applies to the OP and am certainly not inferring that they were rude etc.

rule #1 is not to mention the existence of the flat tire rule to the agent. It's never been published in any public-facing document.

Basically it's a courtesy in their employee system that has to be offered by WN rather than a privilege that a customer can demand.

Perhaps official protocol changed and they are to inform the customer on the new no-show policy before looking to rebook them. Perhaps it is now at the gate agent's discretion. Showing up out of breath (or in tears) shows more legitimacy than stumbling over from the bar, or telling an agent that you booked a cheaper flight knowing you'd likely miss it.

If it's a definite change in policy then I'm sure we'll soon someone on FT say they had to re-buy a new seat. IIRC, I think that is already Jetblue's policy.
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Old Oct 17, 13, 4:42 pm
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WN couldn't have been more clear and posted this months ago. It's been effective for over a month. The funds will go away after a period of time if you are on one of these fares.

This has nothing to do with morality or ambiguity, it's about not overplaying one's hand and that's what happened. It goes straight to WN's bottom line and people were gaming the system, so both the gamers and the poor slobs who actually missed/forgot are the losers.

The fact that OP as one single customer happened to rebook onto a flight that had space has nothing to do with the fact that someone else might not have been able to book onto the flight he reserved and thus took their business elsewhere.

"No Show Policy - If you are not planning to travel on any portion of this itinerary, please cancel your reservation at least 10 minutes prior to scheduled departure of the flight. For tickets purchased on or after May 10, 2013, for travel beginning September 13, 2013, Customers who fail to cancel or change a Wanna Get Away or DING! fare segment at least 10 minutes prior to travel and who do not board the flight, will be considered a no show, and all remaining funds on this reservation will be forfeited, including Business Select and Anytime funds. Reservations booked using Rewards points, Companion passes, and Reward seats are not included in this policy."
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Old Oct 17, 13, 4:47 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
WN couldn't have been more clear and posted this months ago. It's been effective for over a month. The funds will go away after a period of time if you are on one of these fares.

This has nothing to do with morality or ambiguity, it's about not overplaying one's hand and that's what happened. It goes straight to WN's bottom line and people were gaming the system, so both the gamers and the poor slobs who actually missed/forgot are the losers.

The fact that OP as one single customer happened to rebook onto a flight that had space has nothing to do with the fact that someone else might not have been able to book onto the flight he reserved and thus took their business elsewhere.

"No Show Policy - If you are not planning to travel on any portion of this itinerary, please cancel your reservation at least 10 minutes prior to scheduled departure of the flight. For tickets purchased on or after May 10, 2013, for travel beginning September 13, 2013, Customers who fail to cancel or change a Wanna Get Away or DING! fare segment at least 10 minutes prior to travel and who do not board the flight, will be considered a no show, and all remaining funds on this reservation will be forfeited, including Business Select and Anytime funds. Reservations booked using Rewards points, Companion passes, and Reward seats are not included in this policy."
Huh?

Did you see my post above?

The flat-tire rule was the first question that came up when the policy was announced, and we were assured by a rep here that, basically, it would remain in place -- at the GA's discretion (as it always was).

Also, I think "the funds will go away after a period of time" (your words, not Southwest's, but you get the idea) is pretty ambiguous.
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Old Oct 17, 13, 4:49 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
The fact that OP as one single customer happened to rebook onto a flight that had space has nothing to do with the fact that someone else might not have been able to book onto the flight he reserved and thus took their business elsewhere.
I agree with most everything else that you said, but this scenario in particular would not be possible since the flat tire rule results in you being awarded a standby ticket rather than a confirmed reservation.
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Old Oct 17, 13, 8:02 pm
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Last Friday, it became obvious that I would miss a flight by about an hour on a WGA fare and called the A-Plus line just to make sure the flat tire rule would apply. I was assured it would.
When I got to the airport counter, I was booked on the next flight no questions asked or any extra payment. I don't recall telling the person on the phone my itinerary, so there is still some life in the flat-tire rule.
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Old Oct 17, 13, 8:09 pm
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Originally Posted by gogreyhound View Post
Last Friday, it became obvious that I would miss a flight by about an hour on a WGA fare and called the A-Plus line just to make sure the flat tire rule would apply. I was assured it would.
When I got to the airport counter, I was booked on the next flight no questions asked or any extra payment. I don't recall telling the person on the phone my itinerary, so there is still some life in the flat-tire rule.
The A List Preferred line has an automatic account look up based on caller ID to confirm your account status before taking your call. The person taking the call had access to your name and RR# and thus your flight schedule.
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Old Oct 17, 13, 8:21 pm
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Originally Posted by redchilly View Post
I agree with most everything else that you said, but this scenario in particular would not be possible since the flat tire rule results in you being awarded a standby ticket rather than a confirmed reservation.
The scenario makes perfect sense. If someone were looking to book a ticket and the only available for that flight were Anytime and Business Select fares (because you booked the last Wanna Get Away fare), they could possibly book with a different airline, rather than pay for the higher cost Anytime or Business Select fares. Then you are a no-show for that flight. SWA loses when that passenger reserves a ticket with another carrier.
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Old Oct 17, 13, 10:03 pm
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Originally Posted by NextTrip View Post
The scenario makes perfect sense. If someone were looking to book a ticket and the only available for that flight were Anytime and Business Select fares (because you booked the last Wanna Get Away fare), they could possibly book with a different airline, rather than pay for the higher cost Anytime or Business Select fares. Then you are a no-show for that flight. SWA loses when that passenger reserves a ticket with another carrier.
Huh? If you are talking last minute purchases, WGA wouldn't available anyway due to advance purchase requirements. Flat-tire rule is meant for limited usage in specific cases, it's not supposed to be used as a free same-day standby option. If WN thought free same-day standby was a good idea, they'd offer it.
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Old Oct 18, 13, 11:27 am
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Originally Posted by InkUnderNails View Post
The A List Preferred line has an automatic account look up based on caller ID to confirm your account status before taking your call. The person taking the call had access to your name and RR# and thus your flight schedule.
I thought tin your RR card tracking your every movememnt
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Old Oct 18, 13, 10:28 pm
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Originally Posted by LBJ View Post
Huh? If you are talking last minute purchases, WGA wouldn't available anyway due to advance purchase requirements. Flat-tire rule is meant for limited usage in specific cases, it's not supposed to be used as a free same-day standby option. If WN thought free same-day standby was a good idea, they'd offer it.
"Huh?" back at ya. What advance purchase requirements are those? I definitely purchased a WGA fare (on points, but that shouldn't make a difference) last December less than 8 hours before flight time. (My flight on a different airline from a different -- but nearby enough -- airport had gotten cancelled due to weather at that other airline's connecting airport, and they were not able to rebook me for travel that same day. So I tried the Southwest website, and found a WGA points fare, and had plenty enough points, so I grabbed it, changed my car rental to return to the different airport, and got home on time.)
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