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Improved Boarding Plan
Posted by on 12/13/2007
I recently flew Southwest Airlines and was very impressed with their new boarding procedure.

Before when you received your boarding pass, you were either in Group A, B or C and had to wait in line for an endless amount of time until boarding time if you wanted to get a decent seat on the plane.

The new plan still involves Group A, B and C, but you now have a number on your boarding pass so you can line up in order right before boarding the plane--hence, no more standing in line for an hour. If you check-in on-line the day before your flight, you will usually be in Group A and have your pick of seats once you are aboard.

Southwest Airlines seems to have pleasant employees and usually has pretty good on-time records (except for weather delays that can't be helped). Another plus is that they have never lost my luggage!

I think some of the airlines are actually listening and trying to make for better travel experiences--and returning passengers.
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Posted by MRM on 2007-12-13:
Delta has a similar boarding plan with zone 1, zone 2, zone 3, etc.
Posted by Principissa on 2007-12-13:
I flew Southwest when we went to Florida and it was great. One of the few airlines left that let the kids go into the cockpit and allowed me to take pictures of it. I didn't like the seating, but since they've changed it I will try to book with them when we go see my mom in February.
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-12-13:
A couple of weeks ago my GF flew Southwest to visit me in DC. She too loved the boarding procedures and I loved the $237.20 round trip ticket. Southwest rocks!

Good write up dianec! (VH)
Posted by MaxxBNA on 2008-01-02:
I just flew a couple of segments on Southwest, and the new boarding process is a breeze. My "number in line" was slightly lower when I checked in 24 hours ealier because I'd paid a lower fare, but still got in the A group. The gate agents made multiple announcements both times about the new procedures, and no one started lining up before the plane ever got to the gate as in the past. We still pushed back a couple of minutes prior to scheduled departure both times, so those who say this procedure doesn't work are wrong. Both my flights were 100% full too.

Lots of people like to trash Southwest because of this new procedure, or the fact they have open seating. I just don't get the beef. I travel them 20-25 segments a year and have never had one complaint, ever. As for the other airlines, I can list problems with every one I've used at least once.

There is a reason Southwest is the most profitable airline in US history, and that they have they fewest complaints year after year. They treat their customers as guests. Their employees seem to love their jobs and do not look upon passengers as an annoynance.

Kudos to Southwest, keep up the good work.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-02-23:
I hate SW! But I like your review (VH)
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Nothing Matters - Nobody cares
Posted by Legolas on 07/22/2004
If all goes smooth, Southwest employees are friendly, happy and well. As soon as problems arise, the employees completely and miserably fail: I arrived at the airport 2 hours ahead, as requested, checked my luggage and was rewarded with an A Boarding Pass. I waited in the boarding area and got nervous because the counter wasn't occupied 30 min before takeoff. I wandered around, went to another SW counter, asked and was told that my flight had been cancelled and that I had to take a later flight - there never was an announcement! I guess other travelers are used to cancelled flights and constantly ask at unrelated counters. The person at the new check-in did not care that I would be in a hurry and that I really should get my A status back - I was now a B and very nervous because I had to connect to a flight to Europe. She almost trashed my luggage claim when she reissued my boarding pass, I found out later that these claims are unnecessary and dont matter anyway when you fly with Southwest. She also stated that she never heard that people have to check in 3 hours early for an international flight (which was now dwindling down to less than 1 hour). However, I now had time again and went to Customer Service: I explained the situation ... but they also did not care, they actually doubted my statements (no announcements about cancelled flight and the 3 hours advanced check-in) and said the flight would surely wait for me (HaHa) and if not, I could take the next one, HaHaHa. When we finally boarded, an additional 25 min delayed, I couldn't get a seat near the front because of my B status. AT THIS POINT, I HAD BEEN AT THE AIRPORT FOR ALMOST 4 HOURS. I was so nervous that I could hardly talk and my heart was beating rapidly. I told the flight attendant that I had to catch a flight to Europe and that I needed assistance to guide me through the airport rapidly, get my luggage, switch terminals and board the overseas flight. She responded very friendly and said that a supervisor would be there when I arrive. I was saved, I thought. The supervisor was there on arrival (I guess they always are, I just never noticed before) and told me to go to the service counter to get help, I know now he also did not care and only wanted to get rid of me quickly. I raced out of the plane to the counter. . . where I received absolutely no help. Opposite, the slow person at the counter took up more of my time and also did not care. I sprinted to the luggage area, couldnt find my bag, started to run around, shaking, and suddenly discovered my bag, sitting unattended off to the side, close to the exit in an unguarded area. I grabbed the bag, ran into the customer service office to quickly complain and maybe get them to make up my lost time, but they just smiled and said "OK", when I pointed out that anybody could have taken my bag, they also did not care. I was seriously late and still had to find out how to get to the international terminal. . . I caught my flight, but only because I am healthy and in good shape. Bottom-line: I recommend Southwest, if somebody is in no hurry and wants to fly cheap; however, if a person is not athletic and really needs to arrive at a certain time, I recommend traveling with a serious airline that employs educated people who care about future business.
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Posted by Beverly on 2004-12-29:
I don't know what has happened to Southwest Airlines. My family and friends have flown with them since 1993. They used to be much more sensitive and friendly. Nowadays they act as if they are doing me a favor. They canceled my flight from New Orleans to Nashville without making an announcement. We ended up sitting in the airport for 5 hours. The woman at the counter couldn't even look me in the eye when I questioned her about this. She actually asked me if I wanted my money back?! If I didn't have to be at work the next morning I would have said yes and rented a car. Actually we could have driven in less time after this debacle was over. I avoid this 'low fare' airline. Pay the extra money and avoid this low 'CUSTOMER SERVICE' airline. I also avoid their 1/2 hour A&E commercial.
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Cattle Lines for Seats
Posted by TH on 06/30/2004
Southwest Airlines would not be bad if they would assign seats on a first come / first served basis. The boarding passes are sequentially numbered so it should be easy. The way it is now you have to stand in line for an hour. This causes people who appear to have no physical disabilities to request early boarding. I guess that would be called the A+ line. They seem to be forced to stand as well. This whole thing is absolutlely ridiculous. In fact I would probably never use this airline if it weren't the only nonstop flight between Albuquerque, NM and Baltimore, MD. The flights are not really cheaper than the other airlines as far as I can tell, either. They just have most people fooled into thinking so.

If seats were assigned, one could stay seated in the boarding area until it was actually time to board the aircraft.

Here is an idea: Instead of using A, B, and C, use the serialized number on the boarding pass. They could then announce: Boarding passes 1 through 20 may now board the airline, then 21 through 40, etc. until the last person boarded the plane. Still a first come / first served basis, but no lines. How is that for an idea?
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Posted by shadowkillr32 on 2004-06-30:
southwest does work on a first come first serve basis. Also those who do not appear to have disabilities can still have them
Posted by Sparticus on 2004-06-30:
Southwest does have an ordered bording system. It is by groups. The earlier you check in, the earlier group you get in. Then it is a free-for-all within each group.
Posted by joebass on 2004-07-05:
why would you want to board first? So you can spend more time sitting in a cramped chair than anyone else? Smart people board last. The plane won't leave without you.
Posted by Miriam on 2004-07-06:
You have it exactly right. This is why I switched from Southwest to America West. At America West you get a seat assignment and don't have to get to the airport at least 2 hours early in order to get an "A" boarding pass. I really liked Southwest, but the standing around for over an hour with everyone cutting everyone off, got to be too much. America West was my option.
Posted by Bababooey on 2004-07-19:
I'm sorry, but I have nothing but PRAISE for Southwest. Want to talk about a lousy airline with awful service? American Airlines beats all of the others HANDS DOWN!!!
Posted by qtpi on 2004-07-25:
Yes, American Airlines sucks. I missed a connection recently because my first flight was delayed 90 minutes. As we were landing, I saw my commuter flight leaving and then of course, they lost my luggage. The girl at the lost luggage counter said "No wonder you missed your flight-you only left one minute between flights which is not near enough." I wanted to jump across the counter and throttle her.
Posted by Legolas on 2004-07-28:
Their system does not work: My flight was cancelled and therefore my A boarding pass was changed to the B group. After waiting in the airport for over 3 hours I was downgraded, is that fair?
Posted by rasher on 2004-11-14:
Sounds like you have not flown Southwest very long. Before 9/11, they boarded in groups of 30 just as you describe. But people still stood in line long before boarding. It is something to do with the human condition and not having a specific seat.

Personally I am fine with it because I know if they assigned seats at the counter or gate first come first served, lines would be much longer as people hemmed and hawed about their choices. That or staffing would have to dramatically increase resulting in higher fares.

As for the fares, several academic studies found Southwest to consistently provide the lowest average fare between cities it served. But they almost never had the lowest available fare. How so? Because other airlines would offer a couple seats at lower fare to undercut advertised rates. After those seats sold out, tickets were considerably more expensive. But Southwest provided much lower walk-up fares and substantial discounts on many advanced purchase tickets.
Posted by stop yer whining on 2004-12-16:
If you knew how to use a computer, you could print your boarding pass online the night before. Then you could get to the airport right before the plane leaves and board as the last of the A line and be on board before 66% of the plane.
Posted by Travel Assistant on 2006-02-28:
What you suggested is pretty much how it works. The firt 40 people to check in get the A Passes, so in essence, they board passes 1-40 first, then the next 40 (group B), then the last C (which stands for "Check your bags" or "center seat".

The good news is that you can actual pay a service company to log in and reserve your boarding pass for you 24 hours prior to your flight. There are 3 such companies, and ours i one of them.

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Poor Customer Care
Posted by Stunned on 08/31/2007
FT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA -- My family and I flew from Austin, TX to Miami to go on a cruise. We booked 4 round trip flights using the Rapid Rewards from the SWAir Visa card purchases. Unfortunately we had to fly back Sunday because there were no Saturday seats available. Upon arriving in Miami, we went to pick up our luggage and Lo' and Behold only 4 of the 5 bags show up. We were certainly off to a bad start, but around 2:00 AM SWAir found our suitcase, still on the ground in Austin. So they ship it to us. Inconvenient, but not a huge deal. Decent but not outstanding service so far.

However, on our flight back, we were booked for a Sunday red eye flight even though the ship returned Saturday morning. My wife calls numerous times to try to book a Saturday flight since with Rapid Rewards you can rebook anytime. This would get us home a day earlier. She is finally told that there are 2 seats available to Austin, and 2 seats to San Antonio. Yuk...but hey, what can you do? We decide to split the family across these two flights so we can get home a day early even though it is extremely inconvenient. I would fly with my son to Austin, pick up the car, then drive 85 miles to San Antonio and pick up my wife and daughter. We tell the ticket agent to make it happen. She cancels my son and I and books us to Austin. She then goes to cancel my wife and daughter and says "oops, the San Antonio flights are no longer available". We tell her to rebook us back to the Sunday flights then. She informs us that the Sunday seats are no longer available. I am getting pretty angry and upset by this time and ask her what she suggests we do about this.

I was not going to leave my Wife and Daughter alone in Ft Lauderdale because SWAir can't get their act together. She then tells us that she can book my wife and daughter on the same flight my son and I are on, but that they can't use the Rapid Rewards tickets because she did not have any Rapid Reward seats available!! Seats are available, but not for "our kind"? So we have to pay $670 to fly together because the ticket agent was too dumb to grab all 4 reservations when we told her to. I am thinking at this point that I am going to take this up with SWA afterwards, they are bound to see my point of view and make this good. When we complain, however, they only offer to refund us $300 in credit towards a future flight in the next 12 months. SWAir treated us like they were giving us free flights. However, we earned those tickets by participating in a program they earn profit from. I fly SWAir a LOT (or at least I did until now), and I am going to raise a stink in every forum I can find.

They can and apparently did rip me off of $670, but I will make sure my story gets told just in case anyone still thinks SWAir is an honest, reputable, service oriented company. Perhaps my story will cost them $600 in business. I hope it costs them many multiples. I am going to return my business to Discover and get my 3% back. SWAir has just offended another frequent flier. I was once a fan and stockholder (albeit very minor) of SWAir...but absolutely never again.
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Posted by chris513 on 2007-08-31:
ok, let's break this one down. First off, let me put down that I am not a fan of Southwest at all, but, let me try to help you.

First off, you say the airline makes a profit off of you using a credit card. They really don't. In fact, airlines are more annoyed by credit card holders who try to demand the world. No offense meant at all. The credit card company is the one who gains most of the profit. Just an FYI.

Second. Lost baggage. Yeah, that does suck. You are extremely lucky to have it recovered for you in less than 24 hours and the fact that you say "decent, but not outstanding" leads me to believe that you are a typical CC holder. I see them pretty much on a weekly basis when I fly. The airline gets quite a bit of my money, but it is because I am hopping on board airplanes. Not putting Applebee's on my "rapid rewards credit card"

Third. Complaining about a lack of mileage seats. If the airline gave away every seat on the plane for free, do you really think they would be in business? You are extremely lucky to get a free trip, albeit, a slight bit inconvienent, it is free. You wouldn't even be having this complaint if they gave away EVERY seat because SW would have went under years ago if that was there practice. Suck it up. I could think of worse places to be stuck than FLA.

Fourth. Ripping on the person over the phone? A little ridiculous. I am sure she tried her hardest to get you those seats, and to be honest, if you were that pissed about her "losing" the seats, you would have asked to speak w/ a supervisor at that time.

Fifth. Owning stock in LUV. Owning stock in pretty much any airline is kind of foolish. Trust me, there are plenty of better industries to buy in.

All in all, I understand you had a bad trip, and some of your complaints are valid, but for the most part, you sound like another airline credit card holder who expects the world. If i was flying from anywhere in Texas to Florida, i think American Airlines would be my first choice. Living in phoenix, I choose US Airways...guess it's just a personal preference. Please do not think I am coming down on you, I was just trying to explain the airline game to you.
Posted by Stunned on 2007-09-07:
I almost do not know where to begin here. To say that SWAir does not make anything off the SW Visa card is absurd. Obviously, Southwest Airlines is not so altruistic that they provide free transportation for Visa cardholders. Nor did I "demand the world", I merely wanted to fly from Texas to Florida and have a change of underwear when I got there. Other passengers expected that, so I do not think I am unreasonable to expect it also, even for "free".

Second, decent but not outstanding is not slander. The agent could have smiled a little, been a little sympathetic about the fact that we were booked for a hotel in Miami but stuck in Ft Lauderdale. She could have been outstanding at customer service, but she chose just to earn her paycheck and that is all. This is not a negative comment, just a neutral observation of her performance on that particular occasion.

In addition, if you do not put Applebee's on a Rapid Rewards Credit Card or some other equivalent, then all you got was a "decent" meal. Many might say "DUH..." here, but I will be polite. I got a decent meal and a trip to Florida. I have a little trouble feeling stupid here, sorry. Remember, you are the one who started giving unsolicited financial advice.

Third, there were seats available! The only "free" seats that SWAir had to haul back to Texas were the empty ones. Unless, of course you prescribe to the ridiculous argument that SWAir is flying anyone with a Visa card free of charge. I have some ocean front property for sale close to Phoenix. Are you interested? As for "sucking it up, there are worse places you could be stuck than Florida"...guess if I lived in Arizona I would rather be in Florida too.

Fourth, who said I "ripped the ticket agent" on the phone? Read again, and you will see that I only asked her what she suggested we do about this. She suggested we pay the extortion or they would just fly empty seats home and we could walk. You should probably understand here that I work in a customer service industry. Our company motto is "handling exceptions exceptionally well". I was not asking SWAir to unload you off the plane. I know you are special since I am "flying free". As far as asking for a supervisor, it was the weekend...did I fail to mention that? A supervisor was not available. Therefore, I agreed to pay the extortion and complain later to someone who could do something about it. So far, they have not been interested (possibly because I fly "free").

Fifth, owning stock in anything can be profitable if you know how to trade. But, after your stock has been in the crapper for a few years, maybe it is time to step back and listen to your customers. However, you are right; maybe I should buy stock in JPMChase, since they are smart enough to get Airlines to offer flights at no charge just to make their credit cards more appealing. You have to admit, that is a stroke of absolute genius if you are indeed correct.

You make so many derogatory references to "Airline Credit Card Holders" that I think I can detect a hint of jealousy. You too can have a credit card...just apply. They might even have Airline debit cards in case you do not qualify. Please do not think I am coming down on you, I just cannot tell whether you are snobbish or jealous about the credit card thing.

And finally, I was not soliciting help. I was relating an unsatisfactory experience with SWAir in case it helped anyone who was on the fence about which airline to choose make up their mind. You indicate that you are no fan of Southwest Airlines, and I'll take that at face value. It is a little odd, though, that you just randomly read posts about Southwest Air and feel impelled to defend their policies and their employees against disgruntled customers.

Posted by chris513 on 2007-09-13:
well, i was going to come back on this, but obviously, you can not handle any feedback. i was trying to give you advice and educate you on how airlines work. i am very educated on the subject and just wanted to help you make sense of things. read what i wrote again before you run your mouth. and, for the record, i didn't realize we had ocean front property here in phoenix.

i could write a book on how you have contradicted yourself, but you are obviously only in the mood to argue, not to learn.
Posted by Stunned on 2007-09-13:
I have to agree, you sound very educated...you certainly do.
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Make Your Complaint Count
Posted by Safety_first on 08/15/2007
If you want your complaint against Southwest Airlines to count, make sure you send a copy of your complaint to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

The Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the DOT compiles individual travelers' complaints against U.S. airlines and issues monthly public complaint summaries. Those summaries get a lot of press and they're used as input to numerous airline comparisons, including the annual "Airline Quality Rating" scores published by Nebraska and Wichita State universities.

If enough people complain about Southwest Airlines to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, then Southwest gets a bad name in the news and fewer people will fly it. The Aviation Consumer Protection's Division contact information is:

e-mail: airconsumer@ost.dot.gov
phone: 202-366-2220 or 202-366-0511
mail: Aviation Consumer Protection Division
U.S. Department of Transportation
400 7th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590

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Posted by bho55 on 2007-08-15:
So what's your complaint!!
Posted by Hugh_Jorgen on 2007-08-15:
Southwest has consistantly placed near the top of the list (i.e. the best) on all three criteria they measure.
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-08-15:
safety_first, thank's for the information, good to know.

Guy's it said "Informative" not complaint.
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-08-15:
Good post. It should apply to all airlines. Not that it will really help but the traveling public can access this info to help make an informed decision before buying tickets.
Posted by Ponie on 2007-08-15:
Have flown Southwest dozens of times. Never any problems. If they service my destination city, I'll choose them over others. Of course, I'm not one who thinks the world revolves around me. At times my flights have been delayed for an hour or even longer, but I like to people-watch, read, or--even hoist a few while waiting. Just don't do too much of the last activity if you want to get on the next available flight. :)

Good information.
Posted by rnick821 on 2007-08-15:
I'll remember this complaint next time United jacks up my travel plans. I fly more and more lately, and Southwest is the only airline that I consistently appreciate for its good service and on-time departures and arrivals. I just go "MOOO" and move in with the rest of the cattle.
Posted by jktshff1 on 2007-08-15:
don't rate very often, but this is good info. thanks.
Ponie, we all know you are not self centered, never!
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StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
Flight 762 Rep rude and abusive to handy capped
Posted by Leonardjaka on 01/23/2014
TEXAS -- Flight762 southwest airlines change at5:40jan.10/ 2014 attendant at the gate would not tell us why it was not our flight. Southwest was delayed from Raleigh 1 pm to1:30 pm no clocks in Vegas.my watch was on eastern time(.Vegas needs clocks.it would help the airline confusion). The airport( mens ) had 4 mens urinals and 3 were out of order.there was filthy paper all over the floor and none in the dispensers.the attendant was going to push my wife's wheelchair and told me to step ahead and take the purse in my wife's hand and also the light luggage.she was pushy, rude and unprofessional the airline stewardess saw all of this and said she will file a complaint and southwest is not in the habit this procedure and I should file a complaint also.sincerely
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Issue With luggage (arrived soaking wet)
Posted by Dcfrenkel on 10/14/2013
SELECT AN AIRPORT, MASSACHUSETTS -- After arriving at our destination over 2 hours late we received our baggage at baggage claim and the bags were drenched in water. Unfortunately we were on our way to a meeting in the mountains and had our sleeping bags in our luggage. Sleeping bags were drenched. Airline gave me the runaround and informed me that I had to write a letter and send it snail-mail to them and then wait for them to respond.
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Not the "Outstanding" Customer Service They Advertise!!
Posted by Dcherman on 09/30/2013
My flight from Midway Chicago to Phoenix on Monday, September 23. 6 p.m. flight Worst customer service I have ever had. After having to pay $140 to "upgrade" my ticket--and then to have to put up with rude SW employees to board?? Really?? I was too upset to even get their names to report them. My bad. Totally done with SW and their stupid "good luck with getting a seat" seating.
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Southwest Airlines Lied to Me
Posted by Wsx59 on 07/25/2013
Southwest Airlines called me twice to tell me my flight was delayed 1 hour. Then when I showed up to the gate one hour before the departure time they told me they had already given my seat away and would not let me on the flight. They never called to say the flight was leaving early.
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Posted by Ben There on 2013-07-25:
Sometimes delayed flights end up leaving much sooner than expected if the weather/mechanical/crew/whatever problem causing the delay ends sooner than expected.
Posted by Unacceptable Service on 2013-07-27:
They did the exact same thing to me on a flight leaving Long Island headed to Birmingham last month with a connecting flight in Baltimore. They attendants said they would hold all connecting flights because the LI takeoff was delayed. We arrived to our gate ON TIME and were told the plane was full and they sold our seats. We got to standby and watch them close the gate and the plane we were supposed to be on leave the terminal. We were stranded overnight in a city where we knew no one, was told the only thing the could do was put us on a plane the NEXT MORNING. I had to buy a hotel room and they refused to foot the bill!
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Fantastic Customer Service
Posted by Sharilyn46 on 07/17/2013
I had to cancel some tickets due to an accident and the people that helped me were absolutely fantastic
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