Southwest flight issue

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Jan 6, 2019
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I was recently removed from a flight on SWA, my airline of choice when traveling on business. I like the flexibility of changing flights, and low fees for checked bags; I don't like the lack of direct flights, and the line of travelers in wheelchairs waiting to board early- many of whom bolt off the plane after landing without wheelchairs.
I ask an attendant for help with finding overheard bin space- I waved and motioned for her help. She mockingly waved back wildly with a big grin, as if I was waving to her to say hello ( some of the SWA attendants are funny, some are not). I let her know I was asking for assistance. I was standing in front of her going to my seat. She said to her fellow attendant " she's one of those". One of what? Could have been an antisemitic comment...I heard the comment about me and smirked. She did not like that. Apparently that's a not allowed. She exclaimed " I saw that". I shrugged- another thing that apparently is off limits. She grabbed her phone and sent a message that I was to be removed from the flight. I was scared, and I exclaimed: I'm going to call the police. She confronted me on that and I said: I really don't know what to do, but I'm not calling the police. I spoke with another attendant, and shared that I think I'm "in trouble" with the other attendant. I told her I was 100 lbs., 65 years old, and just want to sit in my middle aisle seat, do my crossword, and go home after a tiring business trip. She ignored me- apparently she was "in on the call" and I was doomed!
I sat down in my middle seat- my aisle seat neighbor insisted on keeping the armrest up- what's the protocol on that? A woman came up to me and asked me to get out of my seat. I was shocked and scared. I said I didn't want to leave my seat, but preferred to talk to her surrounded by other people. after asking me to get up a few times, I called my son to ask his advice. The woman then identified herself as a manager ( I thought it was the attendant who made the comment). She told me I was not a good fit for the flight, and I'd have to exit. I tried to find out what she intended to do with me, and she told me she didn't know until she could go to a computer and check flights.
It was 3pm in Chicago Midway, and I wanted to go home. Within a few minutes I agreed to get off the plane; otherwise she said all the other passengers would have to exit. (All because a 100 lb, 65 year old woman smirked and shrugged!)
One I was back at Gate 16 in Midway, another manager spoke with me who I found to me more sympathetic. I was delayed in Midway for 4 hours, and put on a full flight-
was someone else bumped off to make room for me? I took about 4 opportunities to speak with the manager who removed me; I kept thinking of points I wanted to make and questions and concerns to address. One the last conversation with her, she claimed she wanted to speak with me and the attendant on the plane- that was NEVER said to me or made clear in any way. I think she was trying to cover her actions.
I posted some of these things on FB- I got some pretty weak responses that didn't address the issue at hand: the attendant is in the service industry, she was there to help, and not make snide comments about passengers.
I finally got a phone call after writing to the CEO of SWA. The tone was a bit of improvement over the email responses- at least it was more personal.
 

Barry Graham

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Jan 7, 2015
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#2
That sounds like an awful experience. Since you've already received a response after writing to the CEO, what kind of help would you like from us?
 
Dec 19, 2014
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#3
Sorry to hear about your experiences. You state you heard back from the CEO. What else do you want a consumer advocate to assist you with?
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#4
This sounds like an unfortunate misunderstanding that spiraled out of control.

Flight attendants are not required to lift passengers baggage to place overhead. This is because of risk of injury or back strain.

When I read the comment on one of those I took it to mean that the staff meant a person who expected them to be a passengers personal porter or Sherpa that one just waves over.

Last week I lifted the carry on and put it overhead of another passenger; She later told me she is 76 years old (looked younger) and I was happy to help her. But I also understand that a flight attendant does many flights per month and repeated lifting certainly could problematic to ones health.

What more do you want from SW?
 
Likes: jsmithw

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#5
What kind of assistance did you need with your bag? You don’t indicate you had a problem lifting, you daid you needed help with finding space. Did you need her to move other peoples bags to make room for yours?

It sounds like there was a huge misunderstanding.

What did the CEO state? And what would you like from us? Since you have already gone to the CEO zero reskky can’t do anything else. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who would like to know if they at least explained what the FAs problem was.
 
Likes: jsn55

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#6
I am sorry you had to experience that. It does not bode well for SW when their passengers experience this type of behavior.

May I suggest looking at this from how the airline industry currently operates? Unfortunately, two wrongs don't make a right.......the flight attendant may have been wrong to just wave back to you when you were requesting assistance (snarky behavior for sure) but threatening to call the police on her was wrong too. The flight attendants have ultimate say, which means no matter how much you feel you were mistreated, that will be hashed out AFTER you are removed from your flight. Which I gather was the ultimate price paid.....you flew home later than you had hoped. Since you have written to the CEO, writing to the other, less powerful, execs is not an option any longer. That leaves you with the option of spending your money elsewhere, finding another airline that serves your needs.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#7
Patina makes a good point. Once the OP threatened to call the police on the SW staff member the situation was bound to go downhill.

Flight attendants are generally not required to make space in the overhead or lift passengers luggage; some may do it as a courtesy but some airlines do not want them doing that because of risk of injury and disability claims.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#8
Patina makes a good point. Once the OP threatened to call the police on the SW staff member the situation was bound to go downhill.

Flight attendants are generally not required to make space in the overhead or lift passengers luggage; some may do it as a courtesy but some airlines do not want them doing that because of risk of injury and disability claims.
And I want to add that, if a bin is full, the attendant cannot remove another person's luggage just to accommodate your bag. Passengers are getting hip to using carry-ons more than ever so space is limited and available on a first come first served basis. On my last flight I asked two gentlemen if they would mind moving their backpack to the bin across the aisle since it was narrower (regional jet) and their bag would fit but mine would not. They said no so that was that! Luckily my two small carry-ons fit underneath the seat in front of me.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 20, 2015
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#10
If the airlines just enforced their own carry on rules thru would take have half the problems they have.

I get annoyed with people who bring bags that they can’t lift into the overhead and expect someone else will lift it for them. If YOU can’t lift it over your head- then check the bag.
I second Neil's comment. Not to take away from the very unpleasant treatment the OP received, but the reality is that if you can't lift your bag into the overhead, you shouldn't depend on the goodwill of others to do it for you. I know this sounds harsh, but there is an alternative as Neil points out--checking the bag.
 
Jan 12, 2015
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#11
I wish so much that airlines would just charge enough for a ticket so that everyone can have a bag checked for free. They could still charge more for certain other perks, but really they have caused their own problem by just charging for checked bags. It was a very myopic policy that just makes everyone miserable, truly. People would still fly, trust me, and would get along much better too!
 
Aug 24, 2018
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#12
I would really like to see the airline's perspective on this one. Some thoughts & questions:
  1. the OP's initial behaviour seems rather rude (I mean, who 'waves and motions' for help? Why not ask?).
  2. OP suggests that a message was sent by phone that she was to be removed from the flight - how could she possibly know the contents of that phone message?
  3. the OP, after some further unpleasant interactions, then threatens to call the police - surely at that stage there's no reasonable alternative to removing her from the flight?
I just feel that there's a whole other side of this story that we are not seeing.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,163
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www.promalvacations.com
#13
I wish so much that airlines would just charge enough for a ticket so that everyone can have a bag checked for free. They could still charge more for certain other perks, but really they have caused their own problem by just charging for checked bags. It was a very myopic policy that just makes everyone miserable, truly. People would still fly, trust me, and would get along much better too!
Many do if you don’t book basic economy or you don’t use a discount airline that charges for everything . If you travel frequently with one airline, get their credit card- that often gives you a free bag when flying.

There are several ways to fly and not pay for bags but you need to know what to look for.
 
Likes: ADM
Sep 19, 2015
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#14
This happened on Southwest which is one of the few carriers to not charge for checked luggage — SW still gives 2 bags under 50 lbs each— now whether people use the free baggage allowance or not is another question.

I also wish that all airlines allowed one bag checked in but I have been told by people that they do not want to pay extra for people like me to check a bag.....

But cabin crew are not required to lift passenger luggage or rearrange the bin or evict other passengers baggage (in the same cabin).
 
Jan 12, 2015
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Many do if you don’t book basic economy or you don’t use a discount airline that charges for everything . If you travel frequently with one airline, get their credit card- that often gives you a free bag when flying.

There are several ways to fly and not pay for bags but you need to know what to look for.
All true, Neil, and I don’t fly Basic Economy for that reason. But I do see so very many unhappy people, fighting over bag space, and pushing to get on as early as possible just to try to find space for their bags. It makes me sad and wistful for the good old days, even though today’s prices are a bargain by comparison!
 

Barry Graham

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Jan 7, 2015
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#16
I also wish that all airlines allowed one bag checked in but I have been told by people that they do not want to pay extra for people like me to check a bag.....
Just an FYI, I never check bags and it has nothing to do with the cost (since as a frequent flyer I don't have to pay to check bags).
 
Likes: mmb
Jan 12, 2015
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#17
Just an FYI, I never check bags and it has nothing to do with the cost (since as a frequent flyer I don't have to pay to check bags).
Yes, people who take shorter trips and many men find that they don’t need much more than a glorified backpack. But I often travel for a longer spell or to spend time with my children, so need many extras like shoes, different outergarments for different seasons, etc. If I were a business traveler I think I would never check a bag at all.
 

Barry Graham

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Jan 7, 2015
1,038
898
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#18
Yes, people who take shorter trips and many men find that they don’t need much more than a glorified backpack. But I often travel for a longer spell or to spend time with my children, so need many extras like shoes, different outergarments for different seasons, etc. If I were a business traveler I think I would never check a bag at all.
I am not encouraging it, if everyone did what I did they would have to start charging for carry-on as well!
 
Jan 12, 2015
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#19
Just an FYI, I never check bags and it has nothing to do with the cost (since as a frequent flyer I don't have to pay to check bags).
The bit about not wanting to pay for someone else’s checked bag is silly, the airlines have sold them on the idea that the price of their ticket is somehow fixed to the weight or space of the plane, when in truth they run complex algorhythms along with competitive pricing to judge how much profit can be squeezed from each flight.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#20
JimCL also has made some very valid points, and after rereading the narrative I agree with him.

Waving and motioning a flight attendant to find overhead bin space — what does that mean? The staff may have thought that was rude. And how does one know what was sent over the telephone; was something overheard?

One calls the police for crime or when one thinks one is in physical danger. What danger did the staff present?

Unless an employee is a ramp agent or baggage services, there is no requirement for handling a passengers luggage or putting it overhead. They may assist a disabled passenger but that is may assist. One workers/comp lawyer claims that the most common injuries seen in the airline industry is back and shoulder injuries from lifting passenger luggage.
Also airlines do not want the liability if the flight attendant drops the bag and the computer inside shatters ...
 
Likes: JimCl
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