In the end at Southwest Airline, its about getting extra money to get you to your destination on time...

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Apr 6, 2017
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#1
Just relating not a good experience on SWA earlier this week. And I am not asking for help from the forum other than what should I have done to have avoided this? thanks

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I was at the airport in San Diego and the flight was late on the segment from HOU to ATL. (I was flying SAN to HOU to ATL). So I asked the person at the SWA desk--the flight is late, I really dont want to get to ATL late as going around a large city late at night that you dont know really isnt good. There was a flight with a bunch of open seats leaving SAN to New Orleans to ATL that was on time, and another thru San Antonio. I just wanted to get to Atlanta on time.

The persons response was "your flight isnt late enough" and you needed to stay on your original flight. While in the air, the flight (and this is not uncommon) from HOU to ATL got later and later but since SWA had told me I couldnt take a flight to get to ATL on time, I ended up arriving very late into Atlanta. Note--the agent was willing to chg me to the flight that would have gotten to Atlanta on time--for an extra fee of as I recall 153 dollars. Basically, the comment was "we can get you to your destination on time, but you will have pay extra. If you dont want to pay extra, then you will be late". I understand why you have policies on this, but honestly once a flight is late, it would have been great if SWA could have changed me to a flight that was on time without the "we will do it only for money..." requirement. Note that this was not a weather nor air traffic issue, this was purely a late flight due to some SWA issue directly.

I ended up arriving in ATL not until after midnight, and as I was walking to the hotel down a deserted street with literally no one around, I thought to myself, this was all about the money--153 dollars--SWA had me arrive very late because I wouldnt spend the extra money to get to my destination on time. This just isnt right--once your flight is late, especially if it isnt a weather or flight traffic issue, SWA should change their policy and allow someone to chg to an open flight (on standby) so they dont arrive in a city when really its not that safe? (ps its not that ATL is especially unsafe but really travelling around any large city after midnight isnt ideal...)

I was thinking, what if this was my daughter flying?--it would not be good to have her arrive late at night--and not because there werent options to get her to her destination on time, but instead just because SWA wouldnt get her to her destination on time without her paying extra cash to SWA.

I just thought overall this showed a lack of caring by SWA and what felt like a "shake-down" (ie you want to get to ATL on time? we need your credit card...)

Just not right.
 

Neil Maley

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#2
Why didn't you take a cab or UBER? I never would have walked to a hotel that late at night.

Did you have checked luggage? If you did, they would not be able to get your luggage to you to make the flight you wanted and you have to fly with your bags.

If you didn't - I would have asked the attendant again an hour later if it was at all possible to get you on that other flight again.
 
Likes: Nancy
Jul 27, 2016
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This is one downside of Southwest. They don't charge change fees, but because of that, they're much less likely to let you make a same-day courtesy change, unless you're buying the top tier fare. For AA/UA/DL, if you're booked on the 2PM, and walk up to the podium at 12:15 and ask politely if they can move you to the 1PM, and there's space, they'll typically make the move. Southwest generally won't.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Apr 6, 2017
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#4
No checked bags. I wasnt asking to get to my destination early---just on time...so I wouldnt call this a courtesy change....more of a "can you get me to my destination on time" change...

They apparently have a policy that if your flight is late, but "not late enough" the only way they will let you get to destination on time is if you pay them the money.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
How late was the flight? Doesn't this original flight land after 10 pm?

One way to prevent this is to take early flights and always have enough money for shuttle, cab, uber, some sort of transportation.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Nov 20, 2015
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#6
The non-stop from HOU to ATL is scheduled to arrive at 10:35PM. I'm not sure that your personal safety would change much between then and say, 12:30. I do think it would be nice if Southwest had let you change flights, but you'd have still run the risk of delays in New Orleans with all the thunderstorms this summer.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#7
The non-stop from HOU to ATL is scheduled to arrive at 10:35PM. I'm not sure that your personal safety would change much between then and say, 12:30. I do think it would be nice if Southwest had let you change flights, but you'd have still run the risk of delays in New Orleans with all the thunderstorms this summer.
If I was arriving at 10:35 I wouldn’t have walked to a hotel either.

The airline actually was correct- it was not enough of a delay to put you on another flight.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#8
Isn't San Diego to New Orleans a flight with a connection? And then another connection to Atlanta? That sounds problematic right there, two connections.

How late was the flight?
 
Apr 6, 2017
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#9
There is quite a bit of difference arriving at 10 35 pm and after midnight...I would generally take Atlanta's MARTA or other public transportation at 10:30 pm but be hesitant after midnight...

The airline does have a policy that if you arent "late enough" they wont change you to a flight that is on time--but is that the right sort of policy?--especially in this case when the delay wasnt a weather or air traffic issue but instead literally an SWA related problem? Shouldnt SWA try to get you to your destination on time without trying to charge extra?
 
Apr 6, 2017
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#10
three flights that day--no non stops--all with a stop and chg of planes. Of the three all on time except the flight combo I was on. (flight was approx 95 minutes late I recall)
 
Sep 19, 2015
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three flights that day--no non stops--all with a stop and chg of planes. Of the three all on time except the flight combo I was on. (flight was approx 95 minutes late I recall)
Even with the EU which is strong on passenger rights, it takes 2 hours of a delay to warrant action
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#12
My experience with SWA is that they will generally change you at no charge if you are at the airport early and there is space. However, this is when you are going to your last leg. So if my trip was SAN-HOU-ATL, and I arrived at HOU early enough for a flight from HOU-ATL, then SWA would allow on. I have never asked about changing when at the start of a multi-leg trip.

I will also say that maybe that airfare was higher and that SWA does not allow people to do this to avoid paying a higher rate at the get go. For whatever reason, the algorithms may have priced the SAN-NOLA-ATL higher. Whether it be a shorter overall flight, one more popular, etc., I do not disagree with this policy. I am sorry you arrived so late at your destination.

The only advice I can answer is for you to have taken an earlier flight. Delays happen, especially in the afternoons in the south due to the thunderstorms that pop up. I understand this one was not weather related, but it easily could have been. You could also have chosen an airline with a non-stop itinerary.

SWA used to be one of the least expensive airlines out of my area, but with the repeal of the Wright Act and rising fuel costs, United and AA have both become more competitive. There are many times when even first class on AA or United are cheaper than SWA, with less stops and better connection times.