“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

Dear Southwest Airlines: Wow. All I can say is WOW.
Monday, March 7, 2011

We hear a lot of complaints about air travel these days, and, sadly, most of them are valid.
But I had an uplifting experience on Southwest Airlines today that deserves mention.

We were scheduled to leave Nashville, flying direct to Fort Myers, at 8 a.m. today. At 7:45 the captain came out and told us the engine was acting up, and he wanted it tested. Flat out honest with us. He said, "Hey, I'm going up there with you; I don't want to be on a plane with a bad engine."

For the next 15 minutes we listened to him rev the engine up and down, testing it as a mechanic worked on it. Then he came back on and said he wasn't satisfied, and that he'd called for a new plane.

Now, if this were Delta, they would have kept us on there for hours, but we left the plane immediately and returned to the terminal. Time: About 8:20.

Now ... get this: It took less than 30 minutes for a substitute plane to arrive for us. From where? I have no idea. But it appeared, magically, and we boarded. Since this was Southwest and we'd already given up our boarding passes on the original plane, they asked us to use the honor system and sit exactly where we had sat on the first plane. And because everyone was so happy that this problem had been handled so well, they all obeyed. With smiles. Despite having to switch planes, despite being late, everyone was smiling and laughing because the plane's crew was forthright and friendly, and we didn't feel like we were being lied to or treated badly.

In the end, we were just over one hour late arriving into Fort Myers. Incredible. On Delta, this would have taken all day long. I speak from experience: I fly them almost weekly.

Everything about Southwest is efficient. The gate agents get to the doors upon arrival faster than any other airline. Seriously, that aircraft door is open usually within 60 seconds. On other carriers: Sometimes up to 5 minutes. And, Southwest pilots taxi faster than any other pilots. They zip those 737s in and out of those gates as if they were VW Bugs.

And the bag handlers? They were already unloading our bags from the broken plane even before we were let off.

No one at Southwest waits for anything. Except, of course, if something's wrong with a plane engine -- and thank God for that.

Today I married Southwest Airlines.


Blogger Unknown said...

We almost alway fly Southwest. Have never had a complaint and love it when we get the funny attendants :)

March 7, 2011 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger Libby McMillan said...

I LUV southwest (pun intended!). Thrilled they're adding Greenville and Charleston SC this month. Their pre-flight speeches are the best, their attitude is nothing but cheery and honest, like you described. They treat people like people. They also have a kick-ass rewards program where you earn free flights very quickly, and every one-way flight counts (which they also offer!)

March 7, 2011 at 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I generally never fly any other airline. If Southwest doesn't go there, we don't go; or we take SW to closest destination and drive. BTW, you sat next to him today! Have a great day.

March 7, 2011 at 3:00 PM  

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