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BEWARE of flying Southwest Airlines to the cruise ports (potential multi day delay)


NMTraveller
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Posted (edited)

I just thought that I would give everyone a heads up on the experience that I had with Southwest Airlines while flying on vacation this weekend.  My first though was thank goodness this did not occur while going on a cruise as I would have missed the ship!  I have flown with Southwest for over 30 years and have A-List and Companion pass elite status.  None of these helped this weekend.  My non stop flight to Denver went fairly well, it was the first on time Southwest flight I have had in 4 months that was on time.  The flight back was the problem.  I arrived at the airport turned in my rental car.  I checked my phone and noticed that I had received a voicemail from Southwest that my flight had been delayed.  I went to the counter and found out that it had been delayed for over 27 hours.  I was supposed to arrive Sunday night and was instead going to arrive early Tuesday morning.  I asked if they would book me in a hotel for a night and they said no.  There was no compensation offered for hotels, meals, or transportation (I had just turned in the rental).  For a cancelled flight it appears that Southwest will get you out on the last flight the next day.  Flying in the next day to a cruise on Southwest may not be enough as you would need to be there two days early if your flight is cancelled (which is occurring quite often).  Southwest's overbooking of flights (not enough pilots) is wreaking havoc on their schedule.

 

How did I get out of this hot mess that Southwest put me in?  The first thing that I did was check flights on other airlines.  These last minute flights were available but were very very expensive.  For a 50 minute flight it would have cost me the equivalent of 2 trips to Europe worth of points.  The next option was driving back home and getting there close to being on time not a day or two later.  I chose the driving option and made lemonade out of a Southwest barrel of lemons.

 

I am rebooking my Southwest flights to the cruise ports.

 

My question for everyone on this board is which airline should I switch to?

 

 

Edited by NMTraveller
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Posted (edited)

Sorry to hear about your flight travel problems.  It is not clear to me that jumping to a different airline will eliminate this from happening again before the airlines get all their planes/crew back in service.  I have read on these boards about problems with American Airlines.  Since we live in Chicago, we are very United Airlines oriented and they are having similar issues, too.  When we take cruises out of Fort Lauderdale or Miami, we are usually flying Southwest because of their favorable schedule and 2 free checked bags policy....

 

If you are thinking of changing airlines, I usually favor the carrier that has the best destination coverage from my home airport.

 

BTW, I think Delta has the best customer satisfaction marks among the big domestic airlines.  They don't serve us as well from Chicago as United or Southwest.  However the few times we've flown with them (pre-pandemic), I have been very impressed.

 

Edited by mahdnc
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19 minutes ago, NMTraveller said:

I just thought that I would give everyone a heads up on the experience that I had with Southwest Airlines while flying on vacation this weekend.  My first though was thank goodness this did not occur while going on a cruise as I would have missed the ship!  I have flown with Southwest for over 30 years and have A-List and Companion pass elite status.  None of these helped this weekend.  My non stop flight to Denver went fairly well, it was the first on time Southwest flight I have had in 4 months that was on time.  The flight back was the problem.  I arrived at the airport turned in my rental car.  I checked my phone and noticed that I had received a voicemail from Southwest that my flight had been delayed.  I went to the counter and found out that it had been delayed for over 27 hours.  I was supposed to arrive Sunday night and was instead going to arrive early Tuesday morning.  I asked if they would book me in a hotel for a night and they said no.  There was no compensation offered for hotels, meals, or transportation (I had just turned in the rental).  For a cancelled flight it appears that Southwest will get you out on the last flight the next day.  Flying in the next day to a cruise on Southwest may not be enough as you would need to be there two days early if your flight is cancelled (which is occurring quite often).  Southwest's overbooking of flights (not enough pilots) is wreaking havoc on their schedule.

 

How did I get out of this hot mess that Southwest put me in?  The first thing that I did was check flights on other airlines.  These last minute flights were available but were very very expensive.  For a 50 minute flight it would have cost me the equivalent of 2 trips to Europe worth of points.  The next option was driving back home and getting there close to being on time not a day or two later.  I chose the driving option and made lemonade out of a Southwest barrel of lemons.

 

I am rebooking my Southwest flights to the cruise ports.

 

My question for everyone on this board is which airline should I switch to?

I have had similar experiences on other airlines.

This summer is difficult for all airlines.

I would not jump ship over one situation. 

By & large MOST flights on all airlines are getting people where they need to be.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, KKB said:

I have had similar experiences on other airlines.

This summer is difficult for all airlines.

I would not jump ship over one situation. 

By & large MOST flights on all airlines are getting people where they need to be.

Unfortunately this is not the first incident.  This is the incident where I have determined I need to find something more reliable.  Seventy five percent of my Southwest flights have had multi hour delays.  I have had 60% of my existing flights changed to different flights with mulithours of flight times added in and more stops.  Southwest has become totally unreliable.

Edited by NMTraveller
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Yes, this is not merely a Southwest problem. Everyone is having some pain getting back to full steam.  I don't know that looking for another airline will do all the good you hope for.  They all are hurting, although it does sound like Southwest is hurting more than others.  It stinks, but that's what we're dealing with at the moment.

 

We've had a couple of flights rescheduled, but it's only been a difference of an hour or two.   Our son did have a flight cancelled and had to fly out the next day, though.  It's all a matter of what is available at the time.  They aren't going to pull passengers off a flight to make room.  

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20 minutes ago, mahdnc said:

Sorry to hear about your flight travel problems.  It is not clear to me that jumping to a different airline will eliminate this from happening again before the airlines get all their planes/crew back in service.  I have read on these boards about problems with American Airlines.  Since we live in Chicago, we are very United Airlines oriented and they are having similar issues, too.  When we take cruises out of Fort Lauderdale or Miami, we are usually flying Southwest because of their favorable schedule and 2 free checked bags policy....

 

If you are thinking of changing airlines, I usually favor the carrier that has the best destination coverage from my home airport.

 

BTW, I think Delta has the best customer satisfaction marks among the big domestic airlines.  They don't serve us as well from Chicago as United or Southwest.  However the few times we've flown with them (pre-pandemic), I have been very impressed.

 

Thanks.  I will consider Delta to fly me to the cruise ports.

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Posted (edited)
34 minutes ago, NMTraveller said:

I just thought that I would give everyone a heads up on the experience that I had with Southwest Airlines while flying on vacation this weekend.  My first though was thank goodness this did not occur while going on a cruise as I would have missed the ship!  I have flown with Southwest for over 30 years and have A-List and Companion pass elite status.  None of these helped this weekend.  My non stop flight to Denver went fairly well, it was the first on time Southwest flight I have had in 4 months that was on time.  The flight back was the problem.  I arrived at the airport turned in my rental car.  I checked my phone and noticed that I had received a voicemail from Southwest that my flight had been delayed.  I went to the counter and found out that it had been delayed for over 27 hours.  I was supposed to arrive Sunday night and was instead going to arrive early Tuesday morning.  I asked if they would book me in a hotel for a night and they said no.  There was no compensation offered for hotels, meals, or transportation (I had just turned in the rental).  For a cancelled flight it appears that Southwest will get you out on the last flight the next day.  Flying in the next day to a cruise on Southwest may not be enough as you would need to be there two days early if your flight is cancelled (which is occurring quite often).  Southwest's overbooking of flights (not enough pilots) is wreaking havoc on their schedule.

 

How did I get out of this hot mess that Southwest put me in?  The first thing that I did was check flights on other airlines.  These last minute flights were available but were very very expensive.  For a 50 minute flight it would have cost me the equivalent of 2 trips to Europe worth of points.  The next option was driving back home and getting there close to being on time not a day or two later.  I chose the driving option and made lemonade out of a Southwest barrel of lemons.

 

I am rebooking my Southwest flights to the cruise ports.

 

My question for everyone on this board is which airline should I switch to?

 

 

I think it depends on your home airport.  We fly out of Atlanta so we usually use Delta since this is a Delta hub and there are numerous flights daily.  We occasionally fly Southwest but prefer Delta because they have more options for us. Both of us resumed our travel work scheudle last Fall and fly every week. 

Edited by SWKcruise
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We were dangerously close to missing the Edge cruise on the 26th due to flight mishaps with Southwest. We also ended up paying a significant amount of money to fly into MIA the next morning instead of FLL as planned. Between the loss of the hotel room we paid for and didn't need, two Uber trips to the airport and the last minute flights I was out about $1,700. BTS posts on time stats for each airline but it really is a crapshoot. 

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I fly a great deal for business and business flights are picking up again (along with two vacation flights this year).

 

I honestly don't think it matters which airline you book.  They are ALL facing the same challenges that other businesses are facing.  Short staffing; early retirement of seasoned veterans; difficulty replacing retirees as some people don't want to take a job right now, etc., etc., etc.

 

We remind our staff to check their flights at least once a week, maybe even more often right now.  I know of people having challenges regardless of the airline they choose.  

 

My recommendation for the foreseeable future (and I learned this many years ago when we nearly missed a flight flying in the same day the cruise left) is to plan to arrive a day early to your ship's departure port and take the earliest flight you can in case there are delays/cancellations.  You have a better chance of getting on another flight if you have options throughout the day you are flying.  Taking flights later in the day limit your choices if problems arrive.

 

I also want to mention that the airline staff that is working are also overworked and stressed in these challenging times.  I really try to thank them for continuing to work under these stressful situations (long wait times can make for cranky passengers).  I find expressing appreciation to them makes for a much nicer conversation...even after a long hold on the phone.  

 

 

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When you click on a flight number when you pull up a listing of SWA flights for your travel dates, it tells you the on time percentage!

We used this in addition to flightaware to determine that we needed to change our SWA flight to our upcoming cruise. We had a direct flight to Orlando (figured we could drive from there if need be). But it had been late enough that we would have missed our connection 33% of the time in the week prior. 

We rebooked to the more expensive morning flight, which has a 100% on time rate.

The earlier in the day you can fly, the less likely you will run into issues also.

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1 minute ago, Host Anne said:

My recommendation for the foreseeable future (and I learned this many years ago when we nearly missed a flight flying in the same day the cruise left) is to plan to arrive a day early to your ship's departure port and take the earliest flight you can in case there are delays/cancellations.  You have a better chance of getting on another flight if you have options throughout the day you are flying.  Taking flights later in the day limit your choices if problems arrive.

 

I also want to mention that the airline staff that is working are also overworked and stressed in these challenging times.  I really try to thank them for continuing to work under these stressful situations (long wait times can make for cranky passengers).  I find expressing appreciation to them makes for a much nicer conversation...even after a long hold on the phone.  

 

 

That is my point.  In this case a day early would not have been enough.  It would have taken two days early if this was a cruise.  I was scheduled to arrive Sunday night and was rebooked to arrive Tuesday morning.

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1 hour ago, Jeremiah1212 said:

We were dangerously close to missing the Edge cruise on the 26th due to flight mishaps with Southwest. We also ended up paying a significant amount of money to fly into MIA the next morning instead of FLL as planned. Between the loss of the hotel room we paid for and didn't need, two Uber trips to the airport and the last minute flights I was out about $1,700. BTS posts on time stats for each airline but it really is a crapshoot. 

This was what I was trying to avoid.  I have never had a multiday flight delay on Southwest before.  And I don't intend to again.

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Simple fact to remember:

 

If your flight is cancelled, be it on Southwest or any other carrier, you will be accommodated on the first flight WITH AVAILABLE SEATS.  Not the first flight.

 

No airline will bump other passengers just to give you a flight to your destination.

 

Add in that systemwide load factors are in the 80s right now and that works against you getting on the next plane out of Dodge.

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, FlyerTalker said:

Simple fact to remember:

 

If your flight is cancelled, be it on Southwest or any other carrier, you will be accommodated on the first flight WITH AVAILABLE SEATS.  Not the first flight.

 

No airline will bump other passengers just to give you a flight to your destination.

 

Add in that systemwide load factors are in the 80s right now and that works against you getting on the next plane out of Dodge.

Most of my flights on Southwest have been 100% booked with waitlist.  

 

I have noticed that American Airlines will offer people money to go to a later flight and try to free up seats.  Southwest does not seem to have any such policy.  You can be an A-Lister on Southwest and still get crappy treatment and multiday delays.

 

To add insult to injury I received another flight change to an exisiting itinerary this morning.  That is close to 20 flight changes Southwest has sent me.

Edited by NMTraveller
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American has been canceling 40-60 flights per day, due to staffing. Allegiant just had a 15+ hour delay on a flight from Vegas to Stockton. Delta and Southwest has had public notices of staffing problems. United has had a few. 

 

Who are you going to jump to?

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this is why I never flew SW for any business trip and  was flying every week.  If the flight is canceled you are SOL until the next available seat is available.  SW has limited flights on a daily basis.  BTW - SW prices weren't always inexpensive

 

Mainline airlines have multiple flights and hubs that you can rerouted through

 

all of this is now bigger problem with staffing issues

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29 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

American has been canceling 40-60 flights per day, due to staffing. Allegiant just had a 15+ hour delay on a flight from Vegas to Stockton. Delta and Southwest has had public notices of staffing problems. United has had a few. 

 

Who are you going to jump to?

I have flown Southwest for well over 30 years and never had a multiday flight delay.  I am looking at Delta. Southwest is truly Southworst.

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I would avoid American for the same reason. Our return flight in early June was canceled 3 hours before departure. We were rebooked on a flight leaving the next morning at 5am. Instead, we booked a one-way Delta flight leaving 30 minutes later than our original flight. The other options American gave us were to depart the following night, getting us back home in the wee hours of the next morning -- 2 days late. We received a prompt refund from American and were out only about $75. We won't fly American again. This isn't the first time we've had problems with the airline and this was before Covid. Delta is our first choice now. 

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2 hours ago, NMTraveller said:

I have noticed that American Airlines will offer people money to go to a later flight and try to free up seats.  Southwest does not seem to have any such policy.  You can be an A-Lister on Southwest and still get crappy treatment and multiday delays.

 

That's known as VDB - Voluntary Denied Boarding.  All airlines, including WN, are required to ask for volunteers before resorting to IDB, Involuntary Denied Boarding.

 

Now, the issue becomes what the airline is offering to those who will VDB.  WN may just be offering such a small amount that folks aren't taking it.  Which then triggers the IDB if there are still more pax than seats.

 

If you have been IDBed, you are entitled to specific compensation, per federal rules.

 

And remember....VDB and IDB are NOT applicable when there is a flight cancellation, which is different than an overbooking situation.

 

Finally, your "multiday delays" are due to the lack of available seats, not to overbooking.  Your flight wasn't operating.  There weren't available seats to put you on.  You got the first available.

 

Thought problem.....assume that instead of being the person who had to wait an extra day or two, you were the passenger that was tossed off their flight to make room for that "A-Lister" who should have been accommodated (in your view)?  Should you have been forced to have your travel disrupted, just to make it easier for the other guy?

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Posted (edited)
47 minutes ago, FlyerTalker said:

Thought problem.....assume that instead of being the person who had to wait an extra day or two, you were the passenger that was tossed off their flight to make room for that "A-Lister" who should have been accommodated (in your view)?  Should you have been forced to have your travel disrupted, just to make it easier for the other guy?

I have not seen Southwest offer compensation to people willing to take another flight.  If they did offer compensation and such person voluntarily took a large amount of compensation I would say that was OK.  There is no excuse for a multiday flight delay.

Regarding your A-list question I don't see it as worth answering as I don't think that Southwest will have many left!

 

I think that you are getting heavily into the semantics.  Southwest has booked more flights than they have pilots and crew to fly.  You can call it what you want.  It is a bad bad situation for Southwest fliers.  Southwest would be one of the last airlines I would use on a cruise.  I can go to a Delta hub and see many more flights to my hometown than for the many Southwest hubs.

Edited by NMTraveller
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56 minutes ago, CruisinNole said:

I would avoid American for the same reason. Our return flight in early June was canceled 3 hours before departure. We were rebooked on a flight leaving the next morning at 5am. Instead, we booked a one-way Delta flight leaving 30 minutes later than our original flight. The other options American gave us were to depart the following night, getting us back home in the wee hours of the next morning -- 2 days late. We received a prompt refund from American and were out only about $75. We won't fly American again. This isn't the first time we've had problems with the airline and this was before Covid. Delta is our first choice now. 

Thanks.  This is the feedback I am looking for.

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"No reason for a multi day delay"? Ah...lack of available planes, crew, seats, gates, weather...there are actually possible causes..a good number. As illustrated here by a couple of very knowledgeable flyers, there are required policies and procedures to deal with the problem, but the key point is that the remedies aren't always all lined up perfectly, allowing a easy fix. Planes don't fly very empty. Airlines don't keep very much extra capacity...planes and crews, just sitting around.

 

The fact is, manure happens TO ALL AIRLINES. No airline is exempt. I get it, its very, very frustrating. But if you think you can avoid it by flying one airline or another, you are dreaming. Maybe you have been fortunate to avoid issues in the past...we have had only a couple minor problems beyond late arrivals, and we have flown for over 40 years. But I don't go around believing it can't happen on our next flight.

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

The fact is, manure happens TO ALL AIRLINES. No airline is exempt. I get it, its very, very frustrating. But if you think you can avoid it by flying one airline or another, you are dreaming. Maybe you have been fortunate to avoid issues in the past...we have had only a couple minor problems beyond late arrivals, and we have flown for over 40 years. But I don't go around believing it can't happen on our next flight.

True, but lately Southwest has been a big pile of it.  These issues are mitigated by not trying to fly with more flights than you have flight crew and not overbooking existing flights so heavily.  There is very little slack in their model.  It is a certain level of incompetence in their business leaders.  I could have flown back on Delta if I wanted to pay the last minute fare.  Southwest is just one big pile of rescheduled flights.

 

Has anybody had a multiday flight delay on Delta the past couple of months?

 

Every business has underperformers.  So far American and Southwest are on my list.

Edited by NMTraveller
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