Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > Southwest Airlines | Rapid Rewards
Reload this Page >

FAA Probes Southwest Airlines Over Baggage Weight Discrepancies

FAA Probes Southwest Airlines Over Baggage Weight Discrepancies

Old Feb 18, 19, 9:11 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: MCI
Programs: CBP Global Entry, WN A-List Preferred, WN Companion Pass
Posts: 1,948
FAA Probes Southwest Airlines Over Baggage Weight Discrepancies

Feb. 18, 2019 9:50 a.m. ET
Government’s yearlong safety investigation uncovers problems with weight and balance calculations across Southwest’s fleet

"Amid lingering FAA concerns, Southwest is embracing technology. By year’s end, the spokesman said, the carrier plans to institute computerized scanning of all individual bags on the tarmac, just before they are loaded into the cargo holds of its more than 700 Boeing 737 jets.
steved5480 is offline  
Old Feb 18, 19, 9:24 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Blue Ridge, GA
Posts: 4,782
Money quotes:

"Some FAA officials have estimated in interviews that during certain periods, at least one-third of Southwest’s roughly 4,000 daily flights could have operated with inaccurate weight data, a figure Southwest doesn’t agree with."
."Southwest says the airline has cooperated fully with the FAA investigation and calls the company’s dealings with the agency part of a “routine dialogue.."
LegalTender is offline  
Old Feb 18, 19, 10:53 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: ORD, MDW or MKE
Programs: No change fees keep me tied to WN. Hilton and Choice hotels primarily.
Posts: 6,188
One side benefit of this is that after implementation, they will presumably know where our bags are when they don't show up.
lougord99 is offline  
Old Feb 18, 19, 12:35 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 6,051
Which would allow them to monetize things like tracking and "priority delivery."
steved5480 likes this.
ursine1 is offline  
Old Feb 18, 19, 1:21 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: SJC, Northern Cal.
Programs: SWA RR BIS 6.2M, A+'20, CP'20, AA, UA Gold, Hertz PC, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 907
Of course "bags fly free" - especially when they don't really know how much they weigh!

No more lugging brake drums coast to coast in the checked baggage anymore I guess.
Wingrider is offline  
Old Feb 18, 19, 1:39 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: SNA
Programs: Bonvoy Tit Forever, AmEx Plat, National EE, WN CP, CLEAR, Covid-19
Posts: 4,284
Originally Posted by Wingrider View Post
Of course "bags fly free" - especially when they don't really know how much they weigh!
That's just it- yes, they do- I've had a couple of times where the check-in agent would make me take something out of a bag that was 1lb over (and as AL+ even) or threaten to charge me.

Were the rampers just not paying attention?
kennycrudup is offline  
Old Feb 18, 19, 5:27 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Programs: LTP, PP
Posts: 7,988
I don't get it operationally.

Number of checked- in bags x some FAA standard weight per bag = weight of checked baggage done automatically (close enough for government work.)

Just like passenger & carry-on weight. Is this not automatically sent to the crew before closing the door for W&B calculations?

Only variables I could see is late bags from other flights. How material can that be? Cargo? I bet that's weighed to the ounce for billing & revenue purposes.

Rampers not loading properly? As in spreading it out evenly (if that is a thing underneath, arm & moment issues)?

Gotta be something serious if they are going to install a ramp system that has to slow the turn down by some factor.

Last edited by joshua362; Feb 19, 19 at 6:48 am
joshua362 is offline  
Old Feb 19, 19, 2:52 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Knoxville TYS TN
Programs: Hilton (D)
Posts: 252
Did the move to kiosk check in remove a step in their process? Also, how is SW different from other airlines in regard to check in? I'm always curious on the timing of negative business stories, on the heels of major success like Hawaii. Who is pulling levers behind the curtain.
etna is offline  
Old Feb 20, 19, 1:40 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: STL
Programs: Southwest A+/CP, Hilton Diamond, National Executive Elite
Posts: 170
Originally Posted by etna View Post
Did the move to kiosk check in remove a step in their process? Also, how is SW different from other airlines in regard to check in? I'm always curious on the timing of negative business stories, on the heels of major success like Hawaii. Who is pulling levers behind the curtain.
I doubt it - you still have to put your bag on the scale when you hand it over to a SW employee.
aaronp84 is offline  
Old Feb 20, 19, 3:15 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: ORD, MDW or MKE
Programs: No change fees keep me tied to WN. Hilton and Choice hotels primarily.
Posts: 6,188
I have a biggish bag that I usually check and always weigh before I leave the house. I do not recall the ticket agent- before or after kiosk tagging- not taking a close look at the scale weight before placing it on the conveyor. Southwest is not fussy about bag size - you can be over and they won't care - but they are very fussy about weight.
lougord99 is offline  
Old Feb 20, 19, 3:19 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Programs: LTP, PP
Posts: 7,988
Originally Posted by lougord99 View Post
I have a biggish bag that I usually check and always weigh before I leave the house. I do not recall the ticket agent- before or after kiosk tagging- not taking a close look at the scale weight before placing it on the conveyor. Southwest is not fussy about bag size - you can be over and they won't care - but they are very fussy about weight.
But not recording the weight for W&B purposes. Seems like a lost operational opportunity to me. But rather to collect an overweight fee and warn rampers of a heavy bag, IMO.
ursine1 likes this.
joshua362 is offline  
Old Feb 20, 19, 3:46 pm
  #12  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: DCA
Programs: UA US CO AA DL FL
Posts: 50,039
The FAA investigation is a significant flight safety issue and has nothing to do with check-in.

All other major US carriers scan the tag on each bag as it is loaded onto the aircraft. This provides an accurate count of the bags loaded. That is multiplied by an average bag weight and that number (along with which baggage compartment has been loaded) is provided to the Captain and to dispatch and forms part of the W&B calculations.

WN does not bother with scanning and relies on a hand count by the rampers. Sometimes they screw up. When they do, the count is off and W&B may be affected. While it's not likely to cause significant risk, that is not a certainty and there is zero tolerance for this level of sloppiness in US commercial aviation. It's one of the reasons why flying is so safe.

The technology required is hardly sophisticated, but it is necessary. It has ancillary benefits if WN wants to bother, such as permitting passengers to track their bags on the app.

Bottom lime is that that this is a significant safety issue and has nothing to do with whether bags are weighed at check-in and what WN does or does not charge to check bags.
ursine1 likes this.
Often1 is offline  
Old Feb 20, 19, 4:24 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: ORD, MDW or MKE
Programs: No change fees keep me tied to WN. Hilton and Choice hotels primarily.
Posts: 6,188
Originally Posted by joshua362 View Post
But not recording the weight for W&B purposes. Seems like a lost operational opportunity to me. But rather to collect an overweight fee and warn rampers of a heavy bag, IMO.
I doubt anyone records the weight. I know American does not record the weight at O'Hare.
lougord99 is offline  
Old Feb 20, 19, 5:15 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 6,051
Bag weight at check in is not recorded, all the agent is looking at is whether or not you are above or below the limit at which they can impose a fee.

Southwest has no baggage tracking system, and relies on ramp agents to provide an accurate count.

Which is, one suspects, the issue.
ursine1 is offline  
Old Feb 20, 19, 5:16 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Programs: LTP, PP
Posts: 7,988
Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
The FAA investigation is a significant flight safety issue and has nothing to do with check-in.

All other major US carriers scan the tag on each bag as it is loaded onto the aircraft. This provides an accurate count of the bags loaded. That is multiplied by an average bag weight and that number (along with which baggage compartment has been loaded) is provided to the Captain and to dispatch and forms part of the W&B calculations.

WN does not bother with scanning and relies on a hand count by the rampers. Sometimes they screw up. When they do, the count is off and W&B may be affected. While it's not likely to cause significant risk, that is not a certainty and there is zero tolerance for this level of sloppiness in US commercial aviation. It's one of the reasons why flying is so safe.

The technology required is hardly sophisticated, but it is necessary. It has ancillary benefits if WN wants to bother, such as permitting passengers to track their bags on the app.

Bottom lime is that that this is a significant safety issue and has nothing to do with whether bags are weighed at check-in and what WN does or does not charge to check bags.
As I tried to point out in #7 above, poorly, couldn't the number of bags be known from the check-in process? These poor rampers have to load AND count in winter & summer weather? No wonder why they fudge it...
joshua362 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: