Help Me Figure the Angle

Old Dec 23, 02, 10:08 am
  #1  
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Help Me Figure the Angle

I will preface this by noting that a really nice agent in Dallas customer service made a reservation for me using my rapid reward ticket that involves unscheduled service. Although I am not harmed by this quirk, I'm hoping someone can help me understand it.

The last scheduled flight from LAX to Louisville on weekdays beginning in April is 8:45 a.m. In the past, a traveller has been able to leave LAX from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., connect through Phoenix, and arrive in Louisville at 11:30 p.m., or so.

The issue is that LAX-PHX 2:30 - 3:45 p.m. and PHX-SDF 5:40 - 11:55 p.m. weekday flights are still offered separately, but the published schedule doesn't reflect LAX - SDF service for those times that can be purchased as one itenerary. So the nice customer service agent built the itenerary to allow me to only use 1 Rapid Reward coupon.

But why?

I thought the lack of scheduled service was just a mistake, since I have found mistakes involving SDF and the west coast twice before immediately following a schedule rollforward. Both times general reservations was sure that Southwest couldn't possibly make a mistake but both times Dallas customer service recognized the error when I called and fixed it.

This time Dallas said it was correct, but the agent was not able to express a reason as to why afternoon LAX - SDF service is not available as a published itenaerary. It should not be that the layover of 2 hours and five minutes in Phoenix is too long, since similar afternoon service from other west coast cities (such as SAN - SDF) involves even longer PHX layovers.

I think there are three possibilities:

1. Since published afternoon service to Louisville is available from BUR and SNA, I wonder if they are trying to relieve congestion at LAX? However, I wasn't able to find a similar discontinuance of afternoon service from LAX to other midwest or east coast cities.

2. Maybe the LAX - PHX service is so crowded with high-paying customers that they want to discourage the LAX - SDF fares. While the LAX - SDF fares have reasonable competition, I can't believe there are enough customers flying this route to warrant this attention. Also, I would think with HP competition, the LAX - PHX route would not be a high-yield route, anyway.

3. The possibility still exists that the lack of published afternoon LAX - SDF service on weekdays beginning in April is a mistake. If so, I wonder if it will ultimately be corrected. I know there are Southwest representatives who monitor this message board, so if it is a mistake you may want to correct it. Few travellers will want to buy two separate tickets to travel this route in the afternoon, and virtually all of the other major airlines offer afternoon LAX - SDF weekday service as a published itenerary.

Thanks.

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Old Dec 23, 02, 11:29 pm
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I'm not sure which schedule you were checking. However, in my printed schedule there is a published connection from LAX to SDF on WN 2226 leaving LAX at 2:30 pm and connecting to WN 1946 arriving in SDF at 11:35 pm. The website shows the same connection. These flights are listed as operating 7 days a week.

Was there a particular date you had in mind?


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Old Dec 24, 02, 4:47 am
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Andy2, what Southwest did for you doesn't surprise me in the least. I've always found them to be very accommodating, creative and customer service oriented. I believe their "angle" or philosophy is to satisfy the customer with the least amount of resistance and red tape. And their efforts reflect that attitude in their bottom line.

The other airlines could sure learn a lesson or two from Southwest, IMHO. I hope they are listening.

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Old Dec 24, 02, 9:41 am
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The problem (lack of published service) on weekdays starts approximately April 7.

While the Southwest Dallas agent was nice and went out of her way to build the itenerary using unpublished service, my overall post was not meant to be complimentary to the airline.

If it is an error, they need to fix it and drop the attitude one often gets from general reservations that they don't make mistakes. (I'm still tying to get over the press release stating that they are more selective than Harvard). They will get more business if the service is reinstated as a published fare. Most SDF flyers don't think of SNA as an LA airport and will fly another airline if they need to return during an afternoon.

If it isn't an error, the SDF customers deserve a reasonable explanation as to why the service is unpublished. My earlier post was incorrect in that the afternoon BUR - SDF afternoon service has also been discontinued as a published fare (even though BUR - PHX and PHX - SDF afternoon flights continue to fly at similar times as when the service was published). The SNA - SDF afternoon service involves no change of plane and leaves 1-2 hours later than comparable flights from LAX or BUR. However, not everyone wants to figure out how to get to SNA from downtown LA. Also, the most reasonably timed and priced roundtrips involve flying SDF - LAX as the first leg and I don't think the SWA system allows SDF - LAX, SNA - SDF to be treated as a roundtrip. Maybe a telephone agent can do it but the user wouldn't get the double credits.

I still suspect they are trying to pull afternoon traffic away from LAX and into SNA, which they probably view as an underutilized airport. That was what I meant by the angle.
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Old Dec 24, 02, 1:16 pm
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Andy2:

The problem (lack of published service) on weekdays starts approximately April 7.


Since this is the weekend when we switch to Daylight Savings Time and all new schedules are loaded, I suspect the computer just missed this connection. Personally, I doubt if it was intentional and as complex as some of the possibilities you raise.

If it is an error, they need to fix it and drop the attitude one often gets from general reservations that they don't make mistakes.

My personal experience with WN agents has been somewhat different from yours, as I find them the most helpful and responsive of any airline agents I deal with.

(I'm still tying to get over the press release stating that they are more selective than Harvard).

I never saw this press release, but knowing the sense of humor at WN, I would personally guess this was their attempt at a joke. Sorry you didn't see it that way.



[This message has been edited by JerryFF (edited 12-24-2002).]
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Old Dec 24, 02, 8:09 pm
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Be aware that PHX-SDF changes planes in STL.

I recommend the California Pizza Kitchen there for lunch, then back on the plane for the short hop to Louisville.

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Old Dec 26, 02, 6:35 am
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Why doesn't Southwest build connections on the fly? It doesn't make any sense to create a schedule that includes connecting flights (on the computer, not paper). Just query the database and retrieve the available itineraries based on origin, destination, and layover min/max time (e.g., 35 minutes to 4 hours).

This is the problem you run into when you store the result of a query rather than running the query when needed. Otherwise this problem would not occur.
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Old Dec 26, 02, 9:15 am
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Thanks for all of the replies.

The last PHX-SDF evening flight is actually nonstop and doesn't go through STL.

I have spoken to two general reservation agents and the Dallas customer service representative, who put me on hold while she spoke to revenue management. The person in revenue management apparently insisted that it wasn't a mistake.

The 2:30 LAX-PHX is the last flight out of LA for a tremendous number of midwest and east coast cities that involve a connecting flight. I am still thinking they are telling SDF fliers they must find a way to get to SNA at 3:30 in order to free up seats on the 2:30 LAX for higher-fare passengers.

I wouldn't be as troubled if they would enhance their reservation system to treat SDF-LAX & SNA-SDF as a roundtrip. Most of my long distance WN travel is using Rapid Reward vouchers, so if they continue to build the itenerary for me I won't be hurt. I may still write a letter to the Dallas headquarters just in case it is a mistake after all.
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Old Dec 26, 02, 9:33 am
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I should have looked at the schedule before I posted this morning.

Ouch!!! They changed it for the worse.

They eliminated the 3:30 SNA - SDF through service and replaced it with a 1:55 SNA - PHX, 5:40 PHX-SDF change of plane service.

But there is still no 2:30 (or other afternoon) LAX - SDF or BUR - SDF weekday afternoon service.

Now it really doesn't make sense.
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Old Dec 26, 02, 10:48 am
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Andy2, Southwest doesn't need to eliminate a connecting flight from the schedule for revenue management. That is what seat inventory is for.
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Old Dec 26, 02, 12:53 pm
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I agree with you, JS.

I made another call to customer service and I was as nice as I could be. I kept longing to hear the magical words, "Gosh, that doesn't make sense", but it never happened.

The customer service agent was very polite and attentive, took careful notes, and promised to forward the information to the scheduling department when they become available.

She noted the existence of an Ontario - SDF weekday afternoon flight, but that seems a bit far in the desert to get to.

I'm still trying to figure out why so many people think this is such a fantastic airline. I guess I am just missing something.
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Old Dec 26, 02, 5:55 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Andy2:

I'm still trying to figure out why so many people think this is such a fantastic airline. I guess I am just missing something.
</font>
You seem to think the only thing that matters is where & when the airlines flies. I think that most posters are concerned more with how they are treated and the qaulity of the airlines then cities served and frequency. Normally if the airlines does not fly to the location you want or the times you need, you fly on another airlines.

How are you treated, the FF program, cost of the ticket, value for money, leg room and so forth... and many more factors. WN wins hands down for me, but I have about 10 to 15, maybe even more, factors to determine what makes an airlines work for me, not just the time and cities served.
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Old Dec 27, 02, 10:25 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Andy2:

I made another call to customer service and I was as nice as I could be. I kept longing to hear the magical words, "Gosh, that doesn't make sense", but it never happened.
</font>
As helpful as the Southwest Customer Service agents are, I do not imagine that creating flight schedules falls within their domain. Also, if Southwest is operating like most other businesses, their behind-the-scenes staff is probably down to a skeleton crew this week and next due to the holidays.

I had a wonderful experience recently when I wrote them regarding a policy change that I did not agree with. I received a timely, thorough and personalized response in the mail. I would definitely recommend this course of action to ensure that your issue falls into the right hands for the job.
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Old Mar 4, 03, 12:34 pm
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In case anyone is interested, I just wanted to bring this thread to a good conclusion.

I wrote a letter to Southwest and they wrote back a really nice letter in response, explaining in detail the software difficulty that created the problem. They reinstated the afternoon LAX-SDF published afternoon service for the affected period and they even gave me a generous amount of gift certificates.

They indicated that they were not trying to steer passengers away from LAX. Southwest is back at the top of my list of favorite airlines.
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Old Mar 4, 03, 1:14 pm
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This is great Andy2! We read each and every letter, and forwarded them to the correct managers for follow-up. This isn't a front either! The managers are held accountable for Customer responses too

I've also seen Herb reading letters and signing his name to Customer response letters. I am glad to know you have had such a positive experience
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