Dear Southwest: A Reply

Dear Southwest Airlines,

Thank you for responding to my letter. I appreciate you trying to explain why such a mess happened in the first place.  I must state, however, that you have left us with more questions than answers. In two separate correspondences from two different people at your company you give different reasons for the poorly made decisions of our return trip:

  1. “Because we had to bring in another aircraft from another city, we had passengers in ATL that we needed to drop off or pick up as well; hence, the reason for the stop in ATL.” (-Maddie)

  2. “The decision was made to operate your flight to Atlanta in order to clear Customs and accommodate you to Austin the following morning. “ (Adrienne Yurdyga)

Neither of these reasons sounds like a good explanation why this decision was even thought to be a good business decision. Neither does this:

“We carefully evaluate every available option to minimize delays and serve the greatest number of Customers while inconveniencing the least.”

What delay did you manage to minimize exactly? And who did you inconvenience the least?  Did anyone benefit from this?  As far as I could tell, everyone was inconvenienced including your staff in Mexico and Atlanta. I do not think this excuse holds much water.

If you did have passengers on the flight that were trying to get to Atlanta, did you take them all the way to Mexico and then back to Atlanta? How is that fair to those customers? Would it not make more sense to send in an empty flight? This is what I mean by having a backup plan. It just makes good business sense to be prepared for the unavoidable.

I completely understand the maintenance issue, as I stated in my previous letter. That was never the problem.  The “solution” to the problem is my issue. The fact that YOU HAD NO BACKUP PLAN is all I want you to consider for future flights. Bringing in another aircraft from such a long way and so late in the game just showed that your company had to scramble to avoid a major meltdown from over 100 people.  You must set up better policies to avoid such horrible conditions for the customers you claim to value so much.

Also, there are other issues that you did not even bother to address from my letter. Mainly, why sell tickets with flight times to choose from if you do not have the ability to keep those times. There should be some sort of warning that flight times are not guaranteed. This would make the fact that you can’t control your schedules clear to customers BEFORE they purchase a ticket and make their arrangements to fit those schedules.

Your apology email ended like this:

“We want you to have a better experience when you travel with us; and in this spirit, I’m sending a LUV Voucher* (in a separate e-mail) as a gesture of goodwill that we invite you to apply toward a new Southwest reservation.”

A little discount is what that means, right? Unfortunately that won’t entice my family back especially if it’s like the meal voucher you gave at the airport instead of finding accommodations for everyone you inconvenienced from children to elderly, from pregnant to those with medical issues and everyone in between. I’m afraid that for the rest of us, no “discount” will make up for the horrible experience.

I hope you do review this situation as well as every bad experience that keeps getting posted in your Facebook page and make the necessary changes.

Thank you for your time. Good luck in the future.

Sincerely,

Still a disappointed mama

www.bilinguazo.com

To see my original letter to Southwest, please see link below

Dear Southwest: A Mother’s Rant

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Dear Southwest Airlines: A Mother’s Rant

How my poor babies spent the night

How my poor babies spent the night

Dear Southwest Airlines,

I have always respected you for your low rates and friendly personnel. When I worked as an administrative assistant, I would book your flights above most other airlines because my guys loved your rewards and you always seemed to fly where they wanted to go. That is why my latest experience with you was such a disappointment to me, my family and every single passenger on flight 4935 to Cancun and flight 8887 back to Austin.  Most upsetting was the flight back, of course.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? You don’t know me or may even like to, but allow me to introduce myself.   I am a mother of two toddler boys. I am what you would call a schedule oriented mother. I live by routines and schedules that we have worked hard to set up for my children. I truly believe that keeping routines is part of why my boys are so happy and well mannered. With that in mind our original flight was carefully selected to match said schedules as closely as possible in order to cause very little disruption. This is what was originally booked:

Sat Apr 11   708 Depart AUSTIN, BERGSTROM INTL US at 09:40 AM Arrive in CANCUN, INTERNATIONAL MX at 12:10 PM
Sat Apr 18   4587 Depart CANCUN, INTERNATIONAL MX at 03:20 PM Arrive in AUSTIN, BERGSTROM INTL US at 06:05 PM

I would have to wake the kids up a little bit earlier than usual, but nothing too drastic, I thought. They would have been able to nap on the plane on the way back as well. It was all totally doable and perfectly planned.

Then with no explanation whatsoever you sent this confirmation:

Sat Apr 11   4935 Depart AUSTIN, BERGSTROM INTL  at 06:15 AM Arrive in CANCUN, INTERNATIONAL, MX  at 08:45 AM Travel Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Sat Apr 18   4587 Depart CANCUN, INTERNATIONAL, MX  at 5:05PM Arrive in AUSTIN, BERGSTROM INTL  at 7:50PM Travel Time 2 hours 45 minutes

Excuse me? How in the world do you even think this drastic change would be ok with anyone with babies? We thought there was some mistake. I mean there had to be, right? Maybe you sent the wrong confirmation, right? Wrong!  You must have thought we just wouldn’t notice. My husband called your 1800 line and found out that it was due to the airport assigning arrival times. Here is my issue with this.  If you had no arrival time set to begin with why do you sell tickets with times at all? The nice lady on the phone made it very clear that this was how it works.  Times are not assigned until 30 days out.  Again, why even bother giving us options of times to choose from? When your customers pick the times for takeoff, there should be some kind of guarantee. Wouldn’t you agree? It seems like good business to me.

We gave you the benefit of the doubt and blamed the airport. Now we had to figure out how to wake two toddlers that love to sleep at 3am without any major meltdowns. Because you sent the change so close to the actual flight, we were unable to find any alternative flights. Thanks for that also.

We happily made it to our destination and had an amazing time celebrating my in-laws 50th anniversary with my husband’s family. Nine of us (7 adults and 2 children) had to endure the terrible trip, but loved every sun-kissed minute we got once there.

On our final day, the day of our return flight, we had everything planned out perfectly again. We went to lunch, played in the sand and had the airport van pick us up there to get us to the airport with plenty of time to spare.

As soon as we checked in, however, the lady at the counter informed us (with no compassion, mind you) that the flight was delayed due to maintenance issues for an hour and a half. These things happen, we understood that.  Bedtime would have to be pushed a bit, but we could handle it. I did ask if we could find a different flight and the lady pretty much laughed at me. Rude! We had no choice but to wait.

My issue was not with the lady (even if she was unprofessional) or the unforeseen change. We would rather fly on a safe plane than one with issues that go unchecked any given day. My issue was with your lack of responsibility. As a major international airline you should be very aware of the importance of a backup plan. All airlines should either have other aircrafts ready to take the place of faulty ones, or an understanding with other airlines to work together to keep your customers happy and as close to the schedules they paid for. YOU HAD NO BACKUP PLAN.

Soon after the initial shock it was announced that the flight was not making it at 7:30 but 8. Not that big a change but still starting to grate on every passenger. Maybe now would be a good time for a backup plan? A plane that was already ready would have been able to take the place of the one that was still being fixed. Alas, YOU HAD NO BACKUP PLAN.

A little while later it was announced that we would now have to wait until 9:17pm.  Mama’s not a happy mama anymore. This change would now not get us home until after midnight…with toddlers! Unacceptable! This is when all that followed could’ve been avoided. No other trouble had to happen if you had a backup plan.  YOU HAD NO BACKUP PLAN.

I asked if we could get hotel vouchers so our littles could get to sleep at a reasonable hour and we were very quickly denied. We were willing to wait a day or two in order for weather to clear and all the issues to be resolved but we were told you didn’t do that. No one even bothered calling corporate to check, the answer was an instant well-rehearsed “NO”.

Guess what? Troubles were not over. Next we were told that we would no longer fly to Austin but to Atlanta and have to wait until 6am for the next flight! WHAT?  Customs would be closed in Austin by the time we arrived there and Atlanta was the closest airport with 24hr service. Not your fault an international airport is not open 24hrs (another practice that makes no sense) but you know what is your fault:  YOU HAD NO BACKUP PLAN.

Now you want me to sleep at the airport with two toddlers? You want the pregnant lady with back pain to sleep on hard airport chairs?  You want the lady with diabetes to sleep at an airport without enough medication for another day? You want the two other families with babies younger than ours to sleep in a loud and bright airport lobby? You want the couples that had romantic getaways whose kids are waiting for them at home to convince the sitter to stay one more day?  You want the people with pet sitters to get them to cancel their next job in order to stay with their pets one more day? Did you even care? If you did, you could’ve worked something out. All of this because YOU HAD NO BACKUP PLAN.

Do you realize that if you had a backup plan as in a deal with a hotel, another airline to help out or other planes to dispatch at the beginning of the mess then the bad weather in Texas would have been avoided, customs closing would not have been an issue, and I would not have to write this letter? Also, your poor staff that had no clue of what was going on would not have had to answer to over a hundred very visibly upset passengers.

Did you really think that a $14 meal voucher was going to do anything at all? That is a pretty pathetic attempt at making things right, by the way. I understand that many other destinations had problems as well. I saw many complaints about you ruining many trips because of your lack of responsibility and….NOT HAVING A BACKUP PLAN.

My family, my husband’s family and many other passengers made it clear that they were not flying with you again. We hope the money you saved by not providing hotels, reassigning flights at better times or even providing compensation for such a horrible experience made up for the loss of good reviews and repeat passengers in the future. We ended up arriving home at almost 10 am. My kids were very tired and unhappy.  My two year old was throwing up the entire next day and they are not looking forward to flying again.  This is coming from two boys that love planes.

Spend the next day throwing up and exhausted. Again, thanks

Spend the next day throwing up and exhausted. Again, thanks

Let me be clear that I do not blame your staff for any of this; some of them were very sweet and helpful. The lady in the blue shirt in Mexico (wish I had written down names) was very compassionate. (The lady at the first counter and another in a yellow vest were not at all, however). The flight crews all were very helpful and sweet to my kids. The crew in Atlanta was fantastic.  Everyone there was amazing, helpful and even made us laugh a little while there (that may have just been because we were delirious, but still, they were fabulous.) My issues were not with them; my issue is simply that YOU DID NOT HAVE A BACKUP PLAN.

Maybe this will help you see how important a plan B is for your future. For now I want to thank you for showing me that saving money on a fare does not make up for saving my sanity.  I lost a little on this 28hr day for sure.

Hope your future trips are better than ours for those that continue to use your airline.

Sincerely,

One disappointed mama.

Bilingualeyes

www.bilingualeyes.com

9 Kids’ Valentine’s Day Crafts

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Hello!

My latest post on AMB is up.  Please check out these fun crafts to do with your little ones.

Have a fabulous weekend.

Valentine’s Day Crafts for Kids

Music Motivates Us

Music Motivates Us

Music is our motivator. I have written a lot about how music has helped my children learn Spanish and how it has helped me teach it to them.  Even if we still have a ways to go, we are trying. Here is fun little bit about our love for music and movement.  Maybe nothing to do with Spanish, but we can find a way to work it in.

A friend of ours sold me some tap shoes a while back. I decided to save them. I thought I would start M in tap lessons one day and I would give them to him then.  But then I realized he’d probably outgrow them before we got around to finding lessons.  That is why we decided to give them to him for Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day).  He loved them so much that he wanted to watch movies with tap in them.

Yay, another call for classic musicals, my favorite.  I popped in “Singing in the Rain”. He already knows the songs and now can dance along to the tap numbers. Such fun.

Here is a little happy tappy clip for you.

Well, since M was having so much fun, T wanted some also. I didn’t have any for them and couldn’t really go out and buy any so we improvised. I Googled (is there any other way) and found ideas on how to make your own.  Here is what you need.

  • Glue or Glue Gun
  • Pennies
  • Old shoes (that still fit, of course)

Glue the pennies to the top and bottom of the soles of the shoes and ta-da, tap shoes.  IMG_6476IMG_6477

He’s only 2 so it didn’t take many pennies.  I put 3 at the top and one on the bottom.  The google pics I saw had many more, but were for bigger feet. You can decide how to get the most bang for your…pennies.

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I think I may have to look at tap classes for both soon.

Have fun and musical day!

May Your Year Be Full of Firsts…

As this year comes to an end, I wanted to look back at all of the firsts that we experienced in the few days we spent in Mexico.  From the trip to traditions, I couldn’t help but feel lucky that we were able to experience these firsts together. One Lucky Mama is exactly what I am.  Here is a little recap for you plus a little silly poem at the end wishing you a new year full of happy firsts, and happiness.

Firsts:

  • First airplane ride for T
  • First flight for a family of four
  • First time in Mexico for T

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  • First time meeting cousins’ kids for T. M was too young when we took him when he was one, so we are counting it as a first for him as well.IMG_6064
  • First time going out to beautiful Coyoacan together.IMG_5331
  • First time sleeping in an apartment instead of my mom’s house in Mexico ever.
  • First time the boys shared a room and a bed together. They were so happy to be together, they would fall asleep playing and wake up at the exact same time to tell each other their dreams and start playing again. They are the cutest!
  • First time going out to dinner in the city by ourselves without family just the 4 of us.
  • First shower for T and loving it (we always take baths at home).
  • First piano lesson for M from my Tío Jorge. They were so cute together.IMG_5548
  • First time playing chase with my fabulous aunt, Tia MaraIMG_5301
  • First time M was the oldest kid hitting Piñata. Usually, there have always been bigger kids around to break the piñata. This time it was all him.IMG_5560
  • First gingerbread house, tree & train for both boys. That is one American tradition I had not ever thought of incorporating into our lives. Who knew we would love doing it in Mexico instead? Thanks, Tia Mara, it was such fun!IMG_5687 IMG_5840
  • First time M sang in Spanish for the whole family. He was amazing. I wish I could share that with you. I was ready to throw my computer against the wall when it deleted the video, but that is a whole other post.

A little poem for you:

New Year’s Wishes

May your year be full of first.

May love always quench your thirst.

May your loved ones make you smile.

May their embrace reach for miles.

May you always try each day

To find a new fun way to play.

May your days be full of kisses

Full of cuddles and warm wishes.

May the New Year bring new joys,

And love for always for all you know.

Happy New Year, friends, new and old.

Hope your riches feel like gold.

Love forever and good health, too

Is what I wish for all of you.

Malu Talan 2014

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