Wow. SouthWest Airlines was clearly having a bad day today. I’ve been using SouthWest more often and normally they are fine. Prices are reasonable and I get to and from my destination without much fuss. But today – Wow. The sheer scope of FAIL was remarkable.
I’ve just returned from a quick trip to see my parents who live near Seattle. This morning I received a text that my return trip had been rerouted. Instead of changing planes in Sacramento, I was to go through Oakland instead. Not a big deal. Instead of 4:25 PM, I was leaving at 4:35 PM. Arrival in Burbank a half hour later… in the grand scheme of things not a big deal. My check in boarding order dropped a number of notches so I was more likely to get a middle seat… but, c’est la vie.
I checked my bag about 2 PM (SEA>OAK>BUR) as I arrived at SeaTac with time to spare.
Weirdness started while waiting at Gate B12. Gate B10 had a big crowd – folks waiting to board – and the B10 attendant apologized for the delay and said that the passengers were still on the plane as they could not get/keep the aircraft’s door open to allow the passengers to exit. “Please be patient.” Then she announced that she was thankful that two strong passengers had stepped up and were able to hold the door open long enough for the passengers to exit. (At least that’s what it sounded like what she said.) Soon, the plane’s passengers were streaming from the gate.
Meanwhile it was long past time for my plane to board at Gate B12. The male attendant said something unintelligible over the mic and a man near me shouted that we could not understand a word that he said. Then a woman stepped forward and said something… it was intelligible but not memorable. I think something about be patient.
After about a half hour the male attendant said something else that was again completely unintelligible – he was zipping through a speech like he was an auctioneer. I walked over and while I awaited a chance to speak with him, I overheard that someone threw up on our plane and cleaning crews were still trying to clean it and get rid of the smell. I suggested that counter guy speak slower so that we could understand him, and he scoffed and said that he couldn’t help it and that it was just the ambient noise in the room. I politely repeated that we would be able to understand him if he just spoke slower.
By this time all the gates seemed to be changing. Lots of announcements about changing gate numbers. We had a number of folks at our gate who were supposed to be going to Phoenix from B12. Lots of confusion.
The 4:35 flight left about 5:45. My connecting flight was going to leave from Oakland at 7:55. In theory I would make it. We landed in Oakland about 7:35. The pilot said while we waited on the Tarmac that those with connecting flights should be shown the courtesy of exiting the plane first. Around 8:10 we were still trapped inside the plane on the Tarmac waiting for a gate. The pilot announced everybody but those going to Burbank had missed their flights. But when we were finally able to disembark 8:25ish, there was no attempt by attendants to get the Burbank folks off first. It seemed to take forever to get off the plane.
I tried calling SouthWest while on the Tarmac to see if there was a later flight and I was on hold for 35 minutes. SouthWest NEVER answered and I finally gave up on exiting the plane.
Once off the plane I found that I had been switched from the 7:55 to an 8:45 flight to Burbank – it was on the other side of the terminal. I ran. I got there about 845. I got seated. I hope that my suitcase was transferred as well.
The luggage compartment across from me would not shut. (I could not help but remember the plane door that wouldn’t open in Seattle at the B10 Gate and worry about the condition of SouthWest aircraft) The flight attendant determined it was the latch and not the luggage inside and then proceeded to slam the compartment door over and over and over… each slam nearly popping one’s ear drums. Then a passenger decided to help her and proceeded to slam it another twenty times – finally getting it to stick. A few minutes passed and a technician comes on board and opens the compartment again and proceeds to slam it another twenty times to see if he can figure out what is wrong with it. It was borderline comical yet still painful. It was ear drum popping loud. All the nearby passengers were cringing at every slam. Finally he got it to stick (again). We all knew it was not in any way fixed. He mumbled something to the flight attendant and she responded that this won’t be her plane tomorrow. It will be someone else’s problem.
The pilot announces that it is time to turn off cell phones. At least six people around me are on Facebook. email, and Instagram watching videos and stuff. Flight attendants walk past eight times and do not see the plethora of videos being played on phones.
I finally get to Burbank around 10 PM and find my luggage has been lost along the way. I am given a claim form that says if they find the missing luggage and will deliver it but will not call first. They will just leave it on the porch or a safe spot. When I ask, the girl says that they will call first.
SouthWest’s star has certainly dimmed in my book from this day’s experience. SouthWest was starting to become my default choice for air travel, but now I will think twice. Hope I get my luggage.
#southwest #airlines #flight
Update: Yes, I did get my suitcase on the following morning. Which I appreciate of course… still… not the best of travel experiences.