BAYHAM: You Really Don’t Want Southwest Airlines To Fail
This may go down as the worst week not involving a flight incident in the history of Southwest Airlines as the Dallas-based carrier has canceled thousands of flights during the biggest holiday travel week since COVID.
The big winter storm that crashed through most of the country late last week shut down airports and led to cancellations by many airlines though Southwest recovered disastrously slower than its fellow US-based carriers.
Thus far it appears that a combination of the storm and an overwhelmed technological system were the main culprits though in the coming days unreported issues that may have figured into the breakdown could be revealed.
Like many passengers I arrived at the airport to discover that my flight was also scrubbed after waiting in a long line. To their credit the desk agents being flooded by numerous angry and frustrated passengers seeking to either go home or head on vacation diligently worked to rebook passengers on the next available flights and providing them with lodging compensation information.
Unfortunately the scene began to resemble something out of The Lord of the Flies as some people were under the impression they could badger and scream their way on to some magical flight that did not exist.
Others tried jumping in line or attempting to hustle their way in claiming that they were traveling with someone already waiting who they figured didn’t have the stomach to call them out (amazingly this worked for a few people until the exasperated passenger told the agent she didn’t know who the people next to her were).
It wasn’t a pretty sight from either the corporate view or from the passenger corral.
People should be angry. They should be compensated for expense and trouble. And Southwest should be held accountable to the customers first and not the state.
And yet the lectures coming from the Biden Administration and the Democratic side of Congress are laughable, particularly from the woefully unqualified Secretary of Transportation who took almost two months off on paid paternity leave during the midst of a supply chain breakdown.
And as far as Southwest goes, unless you’re a trust fund baby or a high-income professional with no kids, you literally can’t afford Southwest to go belly up.
The largest domestic carrier over the past few years, Southwest is the most customer friendly airline in existence with two free checked bags, penalty-free cancellations with an unexpired credit, and a free carry-on with an additional personal item.
Southwest constitutes about one-fifth of the domestic market.
Their competition have vocally complained about these complementary amenities that put them to shame and in a degree of fee-check. If you think what the others charge now is high, get ready to see what gouging looks like without Southwest on the scene.
Let me share with you how the other airlines deal with passengers:
Delta has had me in hold for four to five hours at a time during normal operations on multiple occasions. When I bought a ticket to a rare destination on our side of the pond that required an expensive and time-consuming travel visa (a retaliatory policy because of the US’ stringent visa rules), they shamelessly chopped off a large portion of my fare credit for cancelling.
JetBlue refused to refund me $100 for a flight that had been delayed over four hours and would’ve had me driving through downtown New Orleans at 4 AM. They finally gave up the ghost when their absurdity became even too much for them to defend.
United hits you with every fee imaginable though compared to Delta and the airline I’m about to delve into, they’re St Francis of Assisi.
Because the most hostile-to-customers airline in America is American.
They will fight you to the bitter end over everything and they’ll move you to JetBlue and leave you holding the bag (literally) on the fee that should be waived for their card holders,.
As for their credit card, it has joke benefits as they charge you a premium for checking in a bag to the Bahamas even though the flight is only a half hour from Florida.
They cancel flights and dump you into a cheap motel and then put you on their most convenient to them not to you flight.
You have to email customer service issues and they don’t always get back. When COVID first started I went to cancel my flight to CPAC and they literally laughed off my concerns about the pandemic and kept my fare.
But their most egregious was an expensive flight to the Bahamas that I had to cancel because shortly after booking it, the Biden Administration in their best hurry up and look busy whim mandate declared you needed a clean COVID test 24 hours before your flight, as opposed to the previous 72-hour test.
Now that the virus can remain undetected even by tests didn’t matter to them but as always a Democrat president is rarely hesitant to unilaterally impose things for the thrill of doing so.
As I’d be flying out Boxing Day (a national holiday following Christmas) getting a COVID test would’ve been near impossible to meet the new mandate by the Biden White House.
American Airlines swore by their own arbitrary policy as if it were from the Book of Leviticus and refused to refund anything or even credit the lost flight. This is how the world’s largest airline treats their customers simply because they can.
But while everyone on Twitter is screaming about Southwest Airlines, why are those profiteering from the misery getting a pass?
What about hotels not letting customers out of their reservations due to flight cancellations? Is anyone checking in on these vultures?
Or the worst of them all, the cruise lines, behaving more like pirates.
Carnival isn’t budging for their customers separated from their homes and their port of embarkation as several levels of staffers all bleat the same position: you miss the boat, you miss your money.
At least Southwest is trying to help their customers while others are helping themselves.
For those rooting for a Southwest collapse, consider the full consequences of that result. The moneyed folks who don’t fly an egalitarian air carrier like Southwest don’t mind and the other airlines are salivating over the prospect of running their fees up higher.
And don’t expect to see Adam Schiff screaming about that like he is about Southwest, an airline that provides affordable mobility to families and those who have less disposable income than others.
The corporatists and snobs amongst us want this to end badly for Southwest.
The average American can’t afford that.