An Open Letter to Southwest Airlines Regarding my Recently Diverted Flight to Houston

Southwest Airlines, where you can pick your seat, but not your destination.

Southwest Airlines, where you can pick your seat, but not your destination.

Dear Southwest Airlines,

Coming back from vacation sucks. No one is ever like, MAN. I can’t wait to hit the office! I’m going to sit at my desk and work like no one’s business! This particular vacation was ending with me flying to Houston (FORESHADOWING: THIS PART IS IMPORTANT) solo with Jones and Casey was flying to Pittsburgh for work.

This trip was extra-special amazing because my boo turned 40, and his best friend and his family came over from Ft. Lauderdale to spend two nights with us. It was also his step brother’s 35 birthday, so loads of cake and celebrating and drinking and sitting on the beach and drinking and we had some drinks. Just a really good time.

Jones and his new besties, Tommy and Josie. We are almost 100% sure Jones and Josie are going to get married. They held hands and called each other 'honey'.

Jones and his new besties, Tommy and Josie. We are almost 100% sure Jones and Josie are going to get married. They held hands and called each other ‘honey’.

So today I was sad, I was hungover, and I was traveling alone with a tired four year old, THREE roller bags, a shoulder bag, a backpack, my purse, and a car seat. Now I’m not too good at math, but that’s way more bags than arms.

My newly 40 year old boyfriend, helping to get the boy and the luggage to the check in counter, before leaving my to manage the rest of this journey alone.

My newly 40 year old boyfriend, helping to get the boy and the luggage to the check in counter, before leaving me to manage the rest of this journey alone.

We had a direct flight from Ft. Myers to Houston on Southwest. Everything started off just fine. It wasn’t a full flight, we had a row to ourselves, and very nice flight attendants. I was hoping Jones would fall asleep so I could fall asleep, but he had other plans. Namely not sleeping and drawing all over himself and the seat with markers.

The flight was going smoothly, and then I noticed we were turning around. Are we turning around? WHY ARE WE TURNING AROUND? I grab my phone and check the flight path, and sure enough, there is the little graphic of our plane heading the wrong way over the Gulf.

I started to panic. I was like, MALAYSIAN AIRLINES, OMG WE ARE GOING DOWN, AHHHHHHH, and one second before I was going to alert the rest of the passengers of our collective impending doom, the pilot comes on:

“Ladies and Gentleman. We are being diverted to New Orleans. Houston is getting pounded with thunderstorms right now, no one is allowed to land, and we don’t have enough fuel to circle. We will update you again on the ground.”

Okay. So we aren’t going to die. FOR NOW. But I’m thinking, I’m alone with a psychotically tired four year old, 72 pieces of luggage, and no clue how I’m getting home. Also, I need to cancel my sushi reservations for tonight, because clearly that shit isn’t happening.

Parents know this face. This is the look they get right before they lose all ability to reason and control their speaking volume.

Parents know this face. This is the look they get right before they lose all ability to reason and control their speaking volume.

We land, and we are told we are going to stay on the plane until we know what’s ‘going on’. If you want to know what it’s like to be sitting on a diverted plane with about 50 families with young children, all coming back from vacation, all tired, all sick of looking at each other after a week of togetherness, just imagine being in the worst place you could ever imagine, ever, and then multiply that by a million.

After a half an hour of being stuck in a hot metal tube with dozens of now feral children, the flight attendant comes on and says we won’t have an update at all until 8 PM. It’s currently 6:20 PM. We were to deplane and come back to the gate at 8 for an update.

Okay! Sounds GREAT! Oh, look! Jones is so tired his eyes are crossing! Here we go! WEEEE. We grab dinner (wine), try to find somewhere to plug in the 47 devices we travel with at all times, and make sure we are at our gate at 8.

And we wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. Finally one of the Southwest people announces that the next flight to Houston is at 9:30. PM. TOMORROW. And that’s it. No word on our luggage, next steps, etc. People start yelling and hollering, babies started screaming, the old guy next to me burst in to tears, so I was like, eff it. I’ll just get a hotel and call Southwest, cause these people clearly lacked the skills to help me.

We go down to baggage claim, where they told us our bags were (after 150 people were yelling WHERE ARE OUR BAGS? WHERE CAN WE GET OUR LUGGAGE?). And we waited. And waited. And waited. At this point Jones had moved from tired to insane. He was convinced they were locking us up in the airport overnight, and nothing I said could talk him down. Reminded me of hanging out with someone on acid. From what I’ve read.

I have one hand on my phone, calling Southwest, one hand trying to soothe Jones, my eyes peeled for our luggage, oh, and I, too, am exhausted and would just like to sit down and cry and demand someone take care of this. Alas, that someone was me.

The Southwest lady on the phone confirms that 9:30 PM tomorrow is, indeed, the next flight to Houston. I ask her about vouchers for the cab, hotel, food, gas, and rental car (a total that I can assure you is well over $500 at the time of this writing). She said that if it’s weather related, they don’t do that. Sorry! Thanks for flying Southwest!

Oh. Okay, Southwest. So let me get this straight. You will dump an entire plane of passengers off in New Orleans, leave them there for three hours with ZERO information, then tell them nothing beyond

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and be all like GOOD LUCK, SUCKERS! That’s totally acceptable? Do you have this thing called science? Or the internet? It’s a two hour fucking flight from Ft. Myers to Houston. You didn’t know this storm was coming? Of course you did. You could have cancelled the flight all together, and yes, it would still have been a pain in the ass, but it would have been a pain in the ass on the BEACH.

I just don’t understand in what world Southwest thinks it’s okay to strand an entire plane full of people in New effing Orleans. What if that family saved for years for this trip, and can’t afford a hotel. What then, Southwest? Are you just all like, hey! YOLO! Cross sleeping in an airport off that bucket list!!

Are you going to say ‘But it was so haaaaarrrddddd. We were so busy. We had many planes we had to divert and it was just… busy!’ So fucking what, Southwest. Does a cashier at a grocery store see a long line and say fuck this! It’s just too busy for me to DO MY JOB. Your job is to get people places. Preferably the places they paid you to take them to in the first place.

And if you can’t get them there, communicate with them. Help them. No, the weather is not your fault. But you morons knew the storm was coming and choose to fly anyway. And now an entire plane full of people are paying real money for your arrogance, ignorance, and might I add NEGLIGENCE.

I am sitting in a New Orleans Hilton with my 87 pieces of luggage that I have to haul to a rental car pick up tomorrow. Then I have to drive SIX HOURS to get home. And pay through the nose for the car, since I’m dropping it off in a different city. I am out hundreds and hundreds of dollars and you can’t even make a goddamn announcement. No amount of free peanuts is going to redeem you in my eyes, Southwest.

You are like that one friend that everyone has. You’re great when things are going smooth, but as soon as shit gets shaky, you flake the fuck out. I can’t count on you, Southwest. My son, he can’t count on you. You made my son cry. You almost made me cry. You failed so spectacularly miserably on the thing you say you do best- customer service.

In closing, Southwest, DO BETTER. I don’t expect perfection, but your utter and complete lack of even trying was disgusting to witness. I’m so, so, so grateful I can swing a hotel and rental car, but this wasn’t always the case. My heart goes out to all the mommies, daddies, and anyone else that are worried tonight about how they are going to cover that hotel bill after Southwest royally screwed them.

The view from hotel room. Look at all of those airplanes not taking me to Houston!

The view from hotel room. Look at all of those airplanes not taking me to Houston!

Learn how to read a weather report, update your policies on extreme weather events, and for fuck’s sake, be prepared for busy.

Yours in anger,

Bethany

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2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Southwest Airlines Regarding my Recently Diverted Flight to Houston

  1. There are so many things I can say – Airlines are just really bad at any type of crisis, traveling with a child is more of a change of venue than a vacation, leaving people stranded in another city is called kidnapping – but under the circumstances…You deserve a medal, is the most appropriate…

  2. Pingback: When Disaster Strikes, Don’t Bitch. Wine Instead. | The Unstable Table

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