Southworst Airlines

May 17, 2009

in Delay/Cancellation Stories

Last June I decided to fly home– the weekend before one of my clients was to go to trial– to surprise my sister at her high school graduation. The plan was simple: get home after she went to be, shock her by waking her up the next morning. SouthWorst, however, had other plans.

Problem Number 1: I was flying out of Philadelphia. For anyone who’s never been “lucky enough” to do that, you should know that there are only two run ways-one take off and one landing- for over 150 gates. Whoever thought that up clearly has no concept of the practical applications of fluid dynamics. So at Philly, you can be guaranteed that you will be put on a plane on time, you will push back on time (to help their on-time statistics) but you will sit on the runway in an endless queue. Add to that the fact that SWA is low man on the totem pole in Philly, and is routinely “passed” on the runway by other, real airlines.

Problem Number 2: My flight departed terminal E. Terminal E is Siberia. There is one Burger King, and that’s it: none of the good food choices, newsstands, etc. of all the other terminals.

Problem Number Three: SWA was suffering computer problems. I was the last flight out on a Friday night, so at nine (forty five minutes after I was to take off) we were still sitting in the terminal, and they turned off the AC.

It was about 85 degrees in the terminal. It was overcrowded with four flights of people crammed into two dirty, pre-historically renovated gates. Burger King ran out of burgers, chicken, coca-cola, fries, and ketchup (how, just… how?!) and I’d not eaten. neither had anyone else who was getting on the flight. Oh, and I almost forgot, someone’s brat broke the ONLY water fountain in the terminal.

Once my plane was a sound two hours late, I went to the desk to enquire as to whether or not I should just give up and not surprise my poor sister after all. The SWA representative was incredibly rude, which was contagious. I snapped back at him that I presumed I would be refunded for the inconvenience of the flight. Of course not. I was told that they will get me where I was going, but made no promises on timeliness, and would not refund me or credit a future flight.

I pointed out that, if a meal at a restaurant was two hours late, the service poor, and the ambience wretched, I’d not pay for the meal. The flight attendant snapped back that the computer problems were not HIS fault. “The company is trying to fly planes on computers on computers from the 1960’s. So you should be amazed that they still work. I bet you don’t even have a blender in your house that is from the 1960’s.” Pointing out to him that I was not trying to transport myself home on a blender got me nowhere. So I asked someone else.

They were much nicer, but, possibly more disturbingly, assured me that the plane (inbound from LAX) was on the ground, but that they could not find it. How you lose a plane on a two-runway tarmac escapes me.

Finally, my plane got to the gate, four hours after I was to take off and three hours after I would have landed, had I flown with a competent airline. We boarded the plane, which smelled of eau de smelly-passengers-stuck-on-a-plane-for-eight-hours-then-lost-on-a-tarmarck-for-four, only to be told that they would not take the time to restock drinks, so they hoped we’d brought water bottles.

After pushing from the gate, we sat on queue for three hours before taking off–at two in the morning! Upon landing at Manchester an two and a half hours later (we had to circle until they could call back the gate staff and baggage handlers whom the airline had sent home because they “thought we weren’t coming”), I deplaned, only to come face-to-face with a giant SouthWest poster advertising that they had been voted the “fly-friendliest airline”. After my ordeal, this so enraged me I literally just let out a scream… and was promptly escorted out of the airport by security.

I now avoid SouthWest, Philly, and Southwest in Philly like the plague.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

theblackdog May 20, 2009 at 5:53 am

While I know that Philly sucks as an airport, your nastiness certainly didn't help. No wonder the ticket agent did not want to deal with you or give you some kind of flight credit.


Roto13 May 20, 2009 at 9:39 am

"Burger King ran out of burgers, chicken, coca-cola, fries, and ketchup (how, just… how?!)"

This part cracked me up. 😛

That's pretty awful. That dude was acting like the fact that they're using shitty 40-year-old computers (ok, I somehow doubt that) isn't the airline's fault.


Hugh May 27, 2009 at 3:46 am

I throw the BS flag on some of this. I fly out of Philly regularly, and they do suck. I believe you are exaggerating the wait time on th etramc a bit. There is no 3 hour queue at 2 in the morning. I also think your lousy attitude contributed to your experience.


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