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Southwest Airlines / customer service

1 Chicago, IL, United States

In October 2009, I bought a round trip ticket on Southwest Airlines and was given confirmation # NHR26T. I was to fly from Chicago to New Orleans on 1/7/10 and return 1/10/10. On January 6, I paid $20 ($10 per flight) for early bird check in. According to SWA's website, early bird check in would automatically check me in 36 hours before the flight, "12 hours before general boarding positions become available".

This seemed like a good deal, because I would not be able to log into the Southwest Airlines website while in New Orleans. On 1/6, I received a boarding position of A43 for my flight on #2842 on 1/7. It wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible. However, on 1/7, a large snowstorm hit the east coast, preventing the plane I was supposed to be on from arriving to Chicago.

I received a call from an SWA employee telling me of the problem, and she booked me on flight 2837 (confirmation # NS2P9U), giving me a boarding position of B2. I told her about how I paid for early bird check in, and she said it would not apply, but I would receive a refund within seven days. More than 50 days have passed, and they have not credited me my $10.

The return flight 1530 was even worse. When I arrived at the New Orleans' airport, I was given a boarding position of C19. I immediately complained to the ticketing agent, telling her I paid for early bird check in. She said she had no record of me having early bird check in, so I showed her my receipt. She said there was no record of me paying for it, so I was stuck with C19.

I didn't pursue the issue for two reasons. First, I didn't want a disgruntled airline employee calling an uptight security officer. Second, I thought the SWA representative I spoke with on 1/7 may have canceled my early bird check in for my return flight, as well as my departing flight. It turns out, she canceled neither.

I was on that return flight with four coworkers, none of whom had early bird check in. All of them had received better boarding positions than I did. I decided I would wait until I was home, and check my credit card history. On 1/12, I reviewed my credit card, and there were two $10 charges from Southwest Airlines, but no refunds.

That night, I called the customer service number, 1-800-I-FLY-SWA, to complain. The representative refused to reverse the charges and said I needed to call Customer Relations at [protected]. On 1/13, I called that number during business hours, and no one answered.

I immediately wrote a letter to their e-mail address, complaining of the situation. On 1/17, I received an e-mail from Southwest saying I would receive a response within 45 days. The 45 days have passed, and I have not received my refunds.

This was the first time I used Southwest Airlines, and I learned their marketing slogan of "Our #1 Mission is Customer Service" is just that, a marketing slogan. Further evidence: On January 15, I received a letter from SWA. The stamp on the envelope was dated January 12. It was an itinerary with the message "Bring a copy of this itinerary with you to the airport". Thanks for getting that to me five days after my trip ended.

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