Disappointed With Southwest Airlines

With two recent business trips completed to Atlanta and Orlando, I have had the opportunity to experience two different airlines within a few weeks of one another.

The trip to Atlanta was with Delta Airlines and the trip to Orlando was with Southwest Airlines.

The Good
From the very beginning, my trip on Delta Airlines was a pleasant experience with one minor problem that was casued by my corporate travel department. Upon arrival at the airport, I was able to immediately check my bag at the skycap without any waiting. The same held true for my return flight from Atlanta.

The flight to and from Atlanta was pleasant as well. The seats were quite comfortable and with only two seats per side of the aircraft, there was plenty of room to relax a little bit. On the return flight, I changed the flight to an earlier departure and that had a reasonable $25 fee.

Overall, I was very pleased with the experience on Delta Airlines and will not hesitate to fly that airline again.

The Bad
The experience with Southwest Airlines was practically a polar opposite to that of Delta Airlines. Upon arrival at the airport, I was greeted with a long line of people trying to check-in curbside and an even longer line inside the airport.

After checking my bag and arriving at the gate, the people were already piled into the “A”, “B” and “C” lines. For those not familiar with Southwest Airlines, they do not use reserved seating and instead board in groups and the seating is first-come, first-serve.

As luck would have it, I was in the “C” group and by the time we boarded the plane there were only 5 or 6 people behind me. As we boarded the plane, I was greeted with a handful of middle seats on each side of the aircraft and evil stares from each person hoping that I did not squeeze into their aisle.

While I can appreciate trying to fit as many seats into an aircraft as possible, I really think 3 seats per side is just too much. The poor sap in the middle is squished in and does not have much room to either side. As I continued to walk down the aisle, I found a window seat way in the back of the aircraft and quickly grabbed it.

On a side note, I am the type of passenger that prefers the window seat. It seems many people prefer an aisle, however I never get up to use the restroom on a flight so I prefer to grab the window. Whenever I sit on an aisle, it seems like the person on the inside has to use the restroom 4 or 5 times during the flight!

The return flight was much of the same. The line to check baggage was obscenely long at 6am on a Thursday morning. Similar to my trip to Atlanta, I arrived at the airport early in an attempt to jump on an earlier flight home.

Southwest did have an earlier flight, although their fee to change the flight was $143 as opposed to the $25 with Delta Airlines. Considering that the round-trip flight was approximately $280, Southwest was essentially charging me for a one-way fare to change my flight.

Once I boarded the flight and discovered that the aircraft was not even half full, I realized that I was simply padding the pockets of Southwest Airlines by paying the ridiculous fee to change my flight. But the sooner that I could get home and be done with this airline the better!

From beginning to end, my experience with Southwest Airlines was not pleasant at all and I seriously doubt that I will ever fly this airline again.

Next Time
As you may have guessed based on this discussion, I do not travel very often but I do not feel that I was expecting too much from Southwest Airlines. While I guess it could have been worse with flight delays or other problems, Southwest Airlines did not live up to my expectations or the precedent set by Delta Airlines.

Have you ever flown on Southwest Airlines? Was I expecting too much from Southwest Airlines?

You may also like...

6 Responses

  1. pf101 says:

    I HATE Southwest. I only fly them when I have no other choice and considering that they’re the main airline our my my new home city, it seems like that will be often.

    I hate the cattle call seating. Even when you check in online and get in group A it still sucks to have to get there early to get a decent seat. I hate not knowing where I’m going to sit before I board.

    There are, however, a couple of advantages with Southwest.

    1 – their FAs tend to have a better sense of humor
    2 – if you change your flight in advance you may not have to pay

    I experienced #2 recently when I had to change a flight twice due to moving delays. The first time it didn’t cost anything because the new flight was the same price as the old flight. The second time it cost $35 because the new flight was $35 more expensive than the old flight.

    But really that isn’t enough to make me want to fly them. I hate that they’re the primary carrier out of this city but I guess I need to get used to it…

    • mnc says:

      pf101, thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience with Southwest! I’m glad to hear that I am not the only one that has issues with Southwest, lol.

  2. LaDawn says:

    I used to travel a lot for business and now travel about 6 times/year. All are international flights as work takes me to the European mainland and pleasure takes me home to visit family. We occasionally take flights further afield for holidays. So far only American Airlines get my vote of confidence. British Airways which is what I fly to Europe is an absolute nightmare. The flight attendants are rude. The sandwiches they throw at you are appalling. The queues for baggage checkin take over 30 minutes and there is no alternative as you cannot currently carry one more than one very small bag on from out of Heathrow. BA lost more than a million bags last year so it is always a bit of a gamble but there is no alternative. For flights to the US, United used to be my favourite but they have fallen way off. I still struggle with American but they are the best of a bad bunch.

    • mnc says:

      LaDawn, thanks for sharing your experiences with various airlines.

      I’ve never flown out of the country so I can only imagine the hassle you face with some of those restrictions and performance from the airlines.

      One good thing on the Southwest flight was that they had spicy V8 juice, which I downed a couple of times. 🙂

  3. pfodyssey says:

    I fly Southwest quite often and while I am sorry for your experience, I don’t believe it’s typical.

    1) You can check-in online and print your boarding pass 24 hours in advance. When I do this, I almost always get in the A group

    2) I hardly ever need to check a bag and if I forget to print the pass, I just go through the automated check-in lines…short or no wait. Of course, I’m much more likely to end up in the B or C group. When this happens, I don’t sweat it, I may just go ahead and be the last darn person on the plane…waiting in a nice chair while everyone else stands in line.

    3) Low Prices. More often than not, Southwest has the best fare for where I’m going…hands down. Full seats means the airline is doing well and helps those prices staying low.

    4) Easy to rack up free flights if you are more often on shorter trips. My flights are typically short (2 hours or less) and when travelling frequently, it doesn’t take long to get a free pass which has tons of flexibility. It has very few blackouts and I can give it to someone else with no hassle if I choose to.

    5) Yes, I agree the charge to change flights is quite annoying. I don’t quite understand why they aren’t a bit more flexible about that. Fortunately, my problem is usually missing my scheduled flight and then being forced to take a later one…they don’t charge me for that. Also, if I recall, they don’t charge you if you paid full fare (I could be wrong about this).

    6) Don’t discount the experience attributed to the airport. There are some airports I absolutely love (usually the smaller ones), and others are a bit difficult. I can’t really comment about the two you mentioned, but Southwest has skycaps also that I’ve used on occassion (when travelling with family).

    If price is not a factor, then go with whomever you think will give you the most love. If price matters and you learn how to “play the game”, I bet Southwest comes out on top more often than not. Anyway, just my two cents.

    • mnc says:

      Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your feedback on Southwest. It could have been an isolated experience but even with the early checkin online, I am still not a fan of the open seating.

      When I travel, I almost always have a bag to check as I typically take a garment bag and don’t feel like being one of those people trying to stuff a bag into the overhead compartments. Checking a bag is not a big deal to me and I actually kind of prefer it.

      So I would still need to check the bags, which I did at the skycap in the first airport. But as I mentioned, the line was still quite long at the skycap and even worse inside.

      I don’t travel often and rarely fly for personal travel but it will have to be an outstanding price difference at this point for me to try Southwest again.

      But as is the case with most things, there will always be people that don’t like something that others do like. For your experience, it is good to hear that Southwest works well for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *