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MCOSWAFlyer May 9, 14 7:44 am

Worst Flight Experience DAL from A-List Preferred
I was booked on Flight 33 from Dallas (leaving at 2:30pm) to Houston, then Houston to Orlando on May 8, 2014. I understand that there was very bad weather that day; the rain and lighting was intense. However, the way Southwest handled the situation was very poor. I fly a lot on SWA (A-List Preferred, Companion Pass) and this is the worst flight experience I can remembered.

To top the entire flight off, SWA lost my luggage. When arrived at MCO, no luggage, along with about 10 others from Dallas flight.

What I do not understand is how poorly Flight 33 was treated vs other flights, specifically other Dallas –Houston flights that day. See below table to compare flights

Flight Sched Actual Actual Amount
Depart Arrival Late

27 1:00 1:14 2:26 0:26
29 1:30 Cancelled
33 2:30 8:35 10:34 6:54
35 3:00 8:02 9:59 5:59
37 3:30 7:54 9:47 5:17
39 4:00 5:31 7:23 2:23
41 4:30 7:39 9:34 4:04
43 5:00 8:18 10:19 4:19
47 6:00 8:34 10:39 3:39

Flight 33, although scheduled earlier, got in after all flights scheduled at/before 5:00 (2 ½ hours later) and almost after 6:00 flight

The following is an approximately time line.

11:00 Checked time –on time
1:00 Arrived at airport, checked in. Two bags, one suitcase and one cardboard box.
2:00 Checked time – showed 2:45, Gate 6
2:15 Flight Attendants arrive at gate 6 for flight
Plane comes into Gate 6
Told NOT our plane, this plane was going to Kansas City, flight 1985, which arrive 2 hours late, not 7½
Told by Ops Agent, out plane was on ground
Looked out window, saw my cardboard box sitting in open cart
Starts to rain, ground crew covers luggage racks poorly. Side of cardboard box visible and in the rain, took picture
Tremendous rain, lighting
Told by Gate Agent our plane diverted to OK City
Gate 6 sits vacant
6:44 Our plane lands- Incoming 2499 New Orleans-Dallas
6:45 Plane comes into Gate 6 Told NOT our plane, Flight 910 to OK City, which arrive 3 hours late, not 7½
6:45 Told by Ops Agent, Flight 33 moving gates
6:55 Announcement Flight 33 to Gate 3
6:55:10 No not Gate 3
7:00 Yes Gate 3
7:01 Gate 3, no plane
7:10 Plane arrives at Gate 3
7:10 7:10 EDT, original scheduled arrival in Orlando
7:30 Ops Agent announces waiting on Flight Attendants from Gate 2
Even though the FA had been waiting at Gate 6 from 2:15
7:45 No FA
8:00 FA arrive not from Gate 2
8:05 Board
8:00 Pilot announces needs more fuel, 2 hour flight to Houston
8:10 15 people leave plane
8:15 Pilot announces fuel to begin
8:35 Door closes
8:55 Takeoff
10:34 Arrive Houston
10:42 Opened door, no Ops agent
FA crew change in Houston
No boarding, told by FA that another FA forgot her manual and had to go to office to print
11:37 Leave Houston
2:33 EDT Finally arrive in Orlando, 7 ½ hours late

While I understand SWA cannot control the weather, there are so many questions. I really do not expect an answer to each, some are just rhetorical.

• Why was more correct information not given, display boards did not show anything?
• Why was the luggage in the rain and not covered from the start?
• Why did the ground crew not cover the luggage completely?
• Why was so much inaccurate information given?
• Why were so many diverted flights for later times than Flight 33 coming in sooner and leaving sooner?
• Why do earlier flights not leave soonest on delay – Flights 35, 37, 39,41…. All left before 33?
• Why did the FA get pulled from Flight 33, then we had to wait?
• Why were we told FA coming from Gate 2 when they were not?
• Why put FA crew that had to change in Houston?
• Why so long to fuel?
• Why sit an extra 30 mins in Houston?
• Where are my bags?
• After all this delay, how could the bags not arrive with plane?

I am sorry for the length of this, but that is a summary of all that happened.

jbdear May 9, 14 12:21 pm

I feel you pain - was on Flt 39. Several on our plane were headed to San Diego - no connections held in HOU. Just landed at SAN. Bad, bad day for WN at DAL (and worse telephone service during the mess).

MCOSWAFlyer May 9, 14 12:37 pm

Thank you jb!

Did SWA put you up in hotel or leave you on your own?

Weather at DAL, worse for SWA due to Wright, but over in October.

kerflumexed May 9, 14 1:36 pm

That must have been a rough day...

Expect more of this over the summer. My list of possible disruptors that will exacerbate outside flow disruptions like weather and mechanical probems include:

1. FAR 117 new duty time limits and rest requirements resulting in more pilots "timing out" after arriving at an intermediate stop following wx delays, or timing out after a long extended taxi when they were already close to the limit.

2. A policy of minimum fueling resulting in more diverts and pilots demanding more fuel before leaving the gate.

3. Inadequate staffing for rampers at major hubs complicated by requirements for mandatory overtime. Result is lower morale and job commitment. Aggravating this are restrictions on swapping gates and requiring aircraft to wait for a gate even though another is open.

4. Inadequate staffing to provide for sensible turn times. There just aren't enough people to unload/load the airplane. The chosen method to improve things is to close the door earlier and not wait for connecting or originating pax even though the gate has been advised of TSA or connecting flight delays. Ground Ops was not augmented to handle the extra demands of the 800.

5. A new attitude of blame the customer - they arrive at the last minute, have too much luggage and carry-on, etc. There will be longer lines at gate podiums and increasing difficulty in trying manage irregular ops.

6. The absorption of Air Tran into the Borg is still causing operational indigestion. A fair number of the former AirTrannies feel like they got a raw deal and will not go the extra mile during difficult times.

7. SWA has always been a low rate payer and this has included IT. Even with the announcement of Amadeus for domestic rez, the cutover will take several years. IT problems and complaints from customers and employees will continue.

8. SWA is struggling to deal with its outstanding labor contract issues. Gary wants "Flat" and the unions are demanding increases. Recent events at JetBlue must be spooking SWA leadership. I have even heard some arguments as to why it would make sense for SWA to acquire JBlu in order to gain gates at slot controlled airports.

9. Used to be that every SWA employee would go the extra mile in a heartbeat for Herb (and the rest of the leadership team). Pilots would figure out a way to get the airplane to the destination, dispatch would come up with something creative, flight attendants would do their thing, mechanics would find a way to get the airplane off the gate, Rampers would help other gates, Ops Agents were truly devoted to Herb and the golden rule. This has changed. Current leadership has replaced common sense and good judgment with more and more rules.

10. So get ready for an interesting summer.

john398 May 9, 14 2:02 pm

What a bad day, I know we had to get in the stairwell for a possible tornado warning at my work yesterday, anyway yes things should get better oon Oct 13 when there are non-stops to MCO from DAL

InkUnderNails May 9, 14 2:02 pm

Why didn't the OP ask for an alternate routing when the flight was late?

joshua362 May 9, 14 6:11 pm

Originally Posted by InkUnderNails (Post 22838577)
Why didn't the OP ask for an alternate routing when the flight was late?

OT: Like your new tagline! So true. You must like Showtime's House of Lies.

jbdear May 10, 14 12:38 am

Originally Posted by InkUnderNails (Post 22838577)
Why didn't the OP ask for an alternate routing when the flight was late?

I tried Ink - the not at all A-List Pref line offered no help when seats were available on a flight w/o a connection - when I got to the front of the line at the gate - those seats were gone.

And OP, when I asked about accommodation at Hobby - the gate agent told me that the OTC conference was in town and "good luck"

Worst SWA customer service I've ever experienced

antinseattle May 10, 14 10:28 am

That is a very bad day. Not the norm, not sure why anyone would expect "more" of this, this summer, it's a small percentage. It's good to fly "no weather" issue routes......

setheriah May 12, 14 10:19 pm

i was on flight 33 also on may 9th... it was about 90 minutes late.. lots of delays that friday too... i would have missed my connection to baltimore in hobby except the baltimore flight was also late flight 383 by 55 minutes so it allowed me to make my connection just when the a's started to board.... Got lucky but may 9th was not much better than may 8th... plus i was on an earlier flight during the day which was late and i would have missed the connection and they put me on another flight which oversold and took the voluntary bump and thats how i ended up on flight 33 but boy the chances of missing connections were great on friday

MCOSWAFlyer May 14, 14 8:23 am


Sorry for the delay in answering.

I did try. The lines were 50 deep at each counter. Tried the 800 line, they said no better options available.

On related note. Sent email to SWA last Friday. Auto "auto"answer; no other response - five days and counting.

Michael El May 14, 14 11:48 pm

There's a reason it's called Southworst.

ExCrew May 15, 14 1:48 am

WN is the absolute WORST in IRROPS. So glad I'm no longer flying. :-)

nsx May 16, 14 10:20 pm

Originally Posted by kerflumexed (Post 22838443)
Aggravating this are restrictions on swapping gates

I have heard this one before but I don't understand it. Can you explain what the restrictions are and why?

kerflumexed May 17, 14 6:37 pm

Originally Posted by nsx (Post 22877637)
I have heard this one before but I don't understand it. Can you explain what the restrictions are and why?

Maybe restrictions is not quite the right word, and I don't have any specific data but...

1. There seems to have been a move towards more regimentation and command & control as compared to the Herb era when it was do the right thing and get it done. Employee flexibility and latitude has been reduced in favor of management structure.

2. Pilots complain that they do their best to make up time and arrive early to find that their gate is still occupied but they can't use adjacent open gates. This might be to the result of reduced ground ops manning and just not having and ops agent and rampers that can bring the aircraft in.

3. I have heard that there is a system in place where rampers etc. work their zone only and are not allowed to help out other gates. This doesn't make sense to me, and it is heresay info.

4. There might be a sense of it is better to have one flight delayed than to have two flights delayed due to splitting of resources.

5. The company has been dragging its feet with regards to labor negotiations. This may have resulted in employee groups including ramp and ops agents not going the extra mile as they would have under Herb.

6. In general there is a clash between the old "Herb" school folks and the new management folks on how to best get work done. VdV is seen as the Rasputin in the mix, but as you once noted times have changed.

Talking about gates... One of the early first hire captains was Salazar, a Cuban, known as Salli. He liked to taxi fast as most did. Sometimes he was going too fast to stop at the assigned gate in Dallas, so he would just go to the next gate or the gate after that. The ops agent would make a laconic gate change announcement. No biggie. The airline used to give out turkeys for Christmas. When Putnam was CEO, he substituted a record of Xmas songs (I think featuring his daughter.) Salli opened up the cockpit window and made a few remarks about the XXX record and sailed it out the window and out over the ramp.

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