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Southwest Airlines Meltdown


Ser Scot A Ellison
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Because of business travel, I’ve mostly flown United, American and Delta, in that order.  But my occasional experiences with SW always showed them to be pretty well run, although quite different: their edge was always in simple, lean operations that got their airplanes back in the air for a higher % of time than the majors.  Even when their fares were no longer cheaper, they had a loyal following as a no-nonsense and less bureaucracy airline.  But that simple, lean operation lacks buffer and can result in a cascading failure.

The real question is why didn’t they handle the customer service better, because that was always one of their strengths and supposedly core to their culture. 

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2 hours ago, Iskaral Pust said:

Because of business travel, I’ve mostly flown United, American and Delta, in that order.  But my occasional experiences with SW always showed them to be pretty well run, although quite different: their edge was always in simple, lean operations that got their airplanes back in the air for a higher % of time than the majors.  Even when their fares were no longer cheaper, they had a loyal following as a no-nonsense and less bureaucracy airline.  But that simple, lean operation lacks buffer and can result in a cascading failure.

The real question is why didn’t they handle the customer service better, because that was always one of their strengths and supposedly core to their culture. 

Same here, although my airlines would be American, Cathay Pacific, BA and United.  Just like the supply chain crisis has been exacerbated by extreme JIT manufacturing and distribution, the lack of buffer and antiquated systems has bitten WN hard.

Herb K must be rolling over in his grave at this customer service response, however.  It is very much not the way he would have wanted to see the airline operate to its customers.

My family is currently all stuck up in British Columbia, and we are enjoying a few extra days with the in-laws as a result of our Monday flight from BLI home to PHX being cancelled, and no options to reschedule on WN until next Monday.  I ended up buying new, one-way flights home for Friday, as I want to sleep in my own bed before Hogmanay.

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5 hours ago, Deadlines? What Deadlines? said:

Sure, but as has been pointed out, SW is the only airline reacting to this situation in this way. 

 

Because they're the only ones with such an outdated system, again per the Reddit post. Everyone else has more modern systems that have not collapsed under the pressure.

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The New York Times has a detailed analysis of the way in which the debacle occurred. The authors explain that all other airlines except for Southwest are hub and spoke airlines, meaning their planes fly out from a hub to a destination and then return to the hub. Southwest, on the other hand, is a point-to-point airline, with their planes flying from one destination to another. When bad weather hits, a hub and spoke airline can shut down specific routes and have crews and planes ready to go when conditions improve, but Southwest, as a point-to-point airline, cannot do this without major disruption to multiple flights and routes. Another Southwest problem that is noted by the authors is their huge staffing shortages that increased tension between management and workers. Union leaders also contend that Southwest has inadequate computer systems that fail to efficiently match crews with flights when cancellations begin to build. Analysts state that Southwest had never made technology a priority. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/27/business/southwest-flights-canceled-travel.html

As I type this, my daughter and I have/had plans to fly to Orlando on Thursday for the VRBO Citrus Bowl because she is performing there as an All-American cheerleader. Southwest canceled our beautifully-scheduled flights, but we were incredibly fortunate to grab an American Airlines flight that leaves so early in the morning on Friday that I may as well skip sleeping. Cheerleaders and mascots from all over the country are traveling to this Orlando to perform at the Citrus Bowl, and messages pop up on our Band app almost every moment of someone having a canceled Southwestern flight and their attempts to still make it to Orlando. Some have decided to drive the entire distance--from Missouri to Orlando!!!; some are driving to an airport far from home to then take a flight to Orlando, and others are taking Spirit. Witnessing a miniscule amount of the disaster this has caused is mind-boggling; people are being treated horrifically, and the economic impacts will be far-reaching. I have long enjoyed Southwest as an airline, and as my daughter moves to DC to college, I plan to utilize their non-stop flights to visit her. Still, I'm happy they are being investigated by the Department of Transportation, and I hope they remedy the failures that caused this absolute mess. 

ETA: Non-Southwest-related--Please do note that I hate theme parks of all kinds, and this entire trip consists of so many things that make me skin crawl (theme parks, crowds, nauseating rides, germs). However, it is important to her, so (every parent can finish this statement) I'm doing it. 

Edited by Ravenhair
to add the fact that I hate theme parks
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14 hours ago, Iskaral Pust said:

The real question is why didn’t they handle the customer service better, because that was always one of their strengths and supposedly core to their culture. 

They failed their customers and their employees. The most likely reason, profit, of course, because they don't actually give a shit about the former two.

And a majority of people what the executives from this company to run the country. God help us all.

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8 hours ago, Larry of the Lake said:

Let's game this out a bit - what's spleen?  The anus even?

Larry of the Lake -- yes, let's do it, hahaha! My :unsure: interpretation below.

As part of the lymphatic system, which performs as a sewerage system, facilitating balance and defending against infections; the spleen itself acts as a filter. It protects the body by weeding out old and damaged red blood cells and also assists in controlling the amount that circulates the body. Additionally, the spleen helps get rid of illness-causing germs and also provides storage space.

I dunno, but the spleen sounds kind of like a prison, removing criminals from society; rehabilitating, isolating, and executing them as necessary. The anus, at the tail end of the digestive system, which extracts as much value from the rehabilitated convicts, releases what's left of them back into the world.

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9 hours ago, Ravenhair said:

The New York Times has a detailed analysis ...

... others are taking Spirit.

Ravenhair -- that's a great analysis, reflecting what I read in another paper. Notably, the vulnerable technology systems used by LUV compelled workers to partially resort to manual operations, which explains why the results weren't close to being effective. And your alternate course of action -- AAL -- is pretty enlightening on why LUV has such customer loyalty!

I'll pray for the families resorting to Spirit Airlines -- vaya con Dios.

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21 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

An anicdote from those pushed to the ticket counter by SW in Nashville.  They offered a refund and a voucher for travel at another time… basically a “fuck you find your own way home…”

 

This was basically what the anonymous SW employees were advising people on Reddit. If you want to reach your destination, fly with another company, take a rental car, train, bus, walk if you have no other option, but don't rely on Southwest finding you alternate means of transport. They have no idea when their system will be back to normal.

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Faux Noose has been beating the drum of Blame Buttigieg for Southwest Airlines debacle.  So we're naturally skeptical.

Yet there's this:

State Officials Have Been Begging Pete Buttigieg to Crack Down on Airlines. He Hasn’t.
BY DAVID SIROTA ANDREW PEREZ

https://jacobin.com/2022/12/southwest-airlines-cancellations-buttigieg-complaints

They did get millions and millions of pandemic relief monies, but the company used it, it seems, only to enrich themselves and top stockholders.  Which we've all know for a long time -- and not only Southwest did it, all the airline companies did (and many other massive corporations as well).  The deal seems to be that Buttigieg was too weak and inexperienced to handle them.

What do you all think?

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Congregation of greedy people w/ greedy goal is greedy?

 

Loook, man. There's things I'm willing to believe, because of what you did for me in Godric's Hollow, but you better have some damn good evidence or I'll have your badge and your gun and you're OFF this investigation!

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3 hours ago, Zorral said:

Faux Noose has been beating the drum of Blame Buttigieg for Southwest Airlines debacle.  So we're naturally skeptical.

Yet there's this:

State Officials Have Been Begging Pete Buttigieg to Crack Down on Airlines. He Hasn’t.
BY DAVID SIROTA ANDREW PEREZ

In terms of credibility - and particularly lack of bias against Buttigieg - David Sirota doesn't rank much higher than FNC.

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On the topic of customer service, the sheer number of canceled flights was entirely unmanageable for the ticket and gate agents to handle along with whatever staff was on hand to handle calls. Like, no one could maintain impeccable customer service in this situation. Any complaints should be absolutely leveled at the mid to senior leadership. The frontline staff never stood a chance. I cannot even imagine the sheer level of abuse they had to endure over a situation completely out of their control. 

Edited by kairparavel
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17 minutes ago, kairparavel said:

On the topic of customer service, the sheer number of canceled flights was entirely unmanageable for the ticket and gate agents to handle along with whatever staff was on hand to handle calls. Like, no one could maintain impeccable customer service in this situation. Any complaints should be absolutely leveled at the mid to senior leadership. The frontline staff never stood a chance. I cannot even imagine the sheer level of abuse they had to endure over a situation completely out of their control. 

Everyone at the top should resign in disgrace. This is their making.

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I wouldn't even blame the mid-level leadership unless they had the decision-making capacity to transform the airline's technology systems. It was a calculated risk taken on by senior leaders, and it makes sense that some of them should resign (though, seppuku wouldn't be unreasonable for the CEO).

:uhoh:

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On 12/28/2022 at 2:19 PM, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

So… SW cancelled 3000 flights on Monday and 2500 flights yesterday.  Their CEO says they’re “really sorry” and weather caused the problem… but they are the only airline having these problems.  

Now it seems they are pushing some stranded passengers out of concourses and into the ticket counters for having “cancelled tickets”.  With airport police claiming the people in concourses with cancelled flights aren’t authorized to be in the “secure area” because their flights were cancelled.

How will this help Southwest?  What the hell happened to this airline that people used to gush about?

 

Out of my last three trips with SW, there was one smooth, one small delay, and one total nightmare.  I want to like them, but telling me I should just stay at Midway for the next 36 hours wasn't a winning move.  BwB in Vegas was great besides that....

But why do you seem to blaming Southwest for whatever the "airport police" are doing?  Does Southwest staff the airport police?  Do they control the TSA? 

If Southwest staff is forcing people waiting for a connection to leave the terminal to make them go back through security again, that would be worth a post.  Separation of powers isn't what it used to be, but I don't think pinning Nashville airport cop actions on Southwest is fair.

Fact checkers rate Scot's last post as questionable but generally in support of top down narrative.

 

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