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How Southwest Does Christmas

TMfamilywork.gifNow I’ve Been To Oklahoma City!

Our Christmas travel experience continued today, with a return to Midway in Chicago for our rescheduled flight to St. Louis, with a 25 minute window and two gate move on to Houston.

We got to Midway plenty early, about four hours ahead of our flight. On the way we met more and more people who where struggling with the massivce Southwest cancelations due to fog. We heard that there were over 100 flights canceled and nearly 8,000 people left homeless and flightless by Southwest, at Midway alone. In the days to come these folks became almost a club. A fraternity of those travelers who dropped off Southwest’s map, we told each other our stories, spent money on airport food and hotels and thought of our loved ones waiting at our final destinations.

When we got to Midway, the line for curbside check-in ran almost the full length of the terminal. It was an hour wait, not too bad considering that word was the inside counters were taking 3-4 hours. Once through this first step, we advanced through security and on to check the flight board, were we learned our flight was, for the moment, listed as on time.

Each member of my family enjoyed a different lunch choice today, as we waited at a food court table, walked, listened to music, read and played games, waiting for our flight time to arrive. Somewhere in here, the delays started hitting the flight board and we started considering our options.

With our 25 minute window in St. Louis gone, we began looking at other possibilities online. The Southwest website was often more up to date than the announcements at the airport and the flight boards were even slower to be updated. My wife, Sara, found three options for variant flights out of Midway and we all set forth to get on stand-by’s, but found the lines exsessive and the stand-by lists at about half the number of seat on each fully booked flight. In the end we were told that our original flight would work, because Southwest would hold the plane in St. Louis, or put on an extra flight if the orginal one had to leave.

With the St. Louis flight back on, we settled in at the gate to wait, then lined up for boarding when we were told to and stood there for an additional 30 or so minutes waiting for a missing flight attendant. Final we took off, had a rough, bumpy flight and arrived, now very late, in St. Louis discovering what we all suspected all along, Southwest did not hold the flight and had no intention of getting us any where but out of Midway tonight.

There were over 30 people stranded by Southwest in St. Louis from our flight alone and we all banded to gether to state our case, when the “Manager” at our gate immediately told us that it was mother natures problem and Southwest would not put us in hotels or get us a flight out of there. After much arguing and stonewalling back and forth, the “Manager” finally secured us lodging and arranged flight for everyone for late the next day. 15 people from this group had tickets to the Bears Texans game, but there was now no way for them to make it to the game, so they made plans to eat the tickets and head home to Chicago.

Our flight arrangements would take us from St. Louis to Oklamhoma City, then to Houston. But I think that story will have to wait for a later posting, as reliving it all at once would be just too painful. 

And to think, Southwest used to be touted as an airline with personality, sense of humour and good customer service! Whatever happened to bring them to this juncture?

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