Thursday, January 06, 2011

The follies of travel on Southwest...

Ok, so I lied...I still haven't uploaded photos from Christmastime yet, but I do have a story to tell.

We traveled on Southwest again, since they offer a reasonably cheap flight option to the OC, and we can travel through warm places that likely won't be snowy in the wintertime. Also, we like choosing our seats. We're weird like that. Oh, and free bags. Even though we were too heavy on the way home, and had to pay $50 for one of them. Still, that's cheaper than a round trip on any other airline, so I couldn't complain too much.

Not until we got back to KC, anyway. When I finally got my bag off the claim carousel, it seemed a little more wobbly than usual. (Over the past year that I've had it, it's been getting more and more beat up every time we fly. We always fly on Southwest, so I don't know if I should blame them and their "bags fly free!" thing, or if I should just chalk it up to cheap luggage...) I tipped it back and asked Leo to look and see if there was something wrong with the bottom. "Yeah. There's a wheel missing."

"Aw MAN! What the fuck?" I stood there and tried to figure out what to do. I immediately planned to write a note to the airline, but there was also a dude over in the baggage claim area helping to offload all the orphan bags that had come in from Denver (there were a LOT of them. Freaky.), so I thought I'd ask his quick advice, too. "Sir? My bag lost a wheel today during our travel from California back to here. Do you have any recommendation on what I should do? Should I write a note? Or is there some sort of claim I can make?"

"No...unfortunately, we're not responsible for wheels on bags. Anything that sticks out isn't something we can be blamed for."

"Oh. Ok. I haven't even had the bag for a year yet, and I only fly Southwest, and it's just getting beat up every time I fly! That's too bad, though. Ok, thanks!"

And then he suggested that I head to a local luggage store, because they can replace wheels and stuff. "Oh! Awesome! I hadn't even thought of that. Thanks again!"

So Leo took the bag in on Monday and found out the wheel replacement would be $25, and then I sent a quick note to Southwest telling them what had happened, and about how I know it's against their policy to be responsible for anything like wheels on bags, but still...pretty much ALL bags have wheels on them, and it's a large part of their functionality. So their disclaimer kinda sucks, in my opinion. I said it nicer than that, but that was the jist.

They replied to my note. Which was nice of them. :/

"Thank you for your e-mail. Our Ramp Agents typically do a great job of handling our Customers' luggage. Per our Contract of Carriage, we are not liable for the loss of or damage to protruding parts of luggage and other articles of checked baggage, including, but not limited to, wheels, feet, pockets, hanger hooks, pull handles, straps, zippers, locks, and security straps. Nonetheless, we are sorry to learn that the wheel was damaged on your checked luggage."

Yeah, I was sorry to find the broken wheel, too. I'm also sorry that this was the one time I actually had to PAY for a bag to fly, and I pretty much got fucked. My bag was the lighter one that we unloaded all the crap from! Why wasn't LEO'S heavy and awkwardly large bag the one that got jacked up??? Jeez.

We'll keep flying Southwest, for the reasons listed at the beginning of the post, but maybe I need to find stronger luggage to withstand their non-typical ramp agents' handling of my bag in a careless manner? I dunno...any recommendations are welcome. (My bag is one of the cute SwissGear bags in pewter from Target. It's got those wheels that move in all directions, which is awesome! But it just doesn't seem sturdy enough for the long haul. Boooo.)

Oh, and for the record, this was the 2nd time we've traveled on Southwest, and have seen people who are epically confused by the boarding system/open seating system. On both the flight from Orange County to Phoenix, and again from Phoenix to KC, there were people who got on in group C (it's always those dopey group C folks!) and think that they're in seat 10C. Or 15C. I'm sorry, it's just flat out retarded. Leo and I were in 10C and B on the 2nd flight, and when the guy got on that thought we were in his seat, he looked so confused when I said, "Oh,'s open seating sir. You can sit anywhere you like." He was all, "" and wandered away with this look on his face that seemed like he didn't really trust me, but he also didn't understand WTF was going on.


I know that not everyone travels as frequently as some people (like me and Leo), but still. It's just something I'd think could be figured out by the time someone has been sitting in the waiting area for the flight for a bit, at the very least. They kind of announce it over the intercom, and all. So....yeah. Hm.

Ok, pictures tomorrow...maybe. I'm not gonna promise anymore, just in case I get home and get all lazy and shit tonight. But I'll make a concerted effort! THAT I promise. :D (Not that anyone's particularly excited about the photos, anyway. Just...I like looking at photos when I visit blogs. So I figure some people might like it.)


faithstwin said...

I want to see photos at least! The wheel thing sucks but at least you can get it fixed. Maybe you can find luggage that has retractable wheels? (ooo... that would be mighty fancy of ya, to be sure!) I think as a business I would respond pretty much the same way Southwest did.

Stupid people, as long as they aren't fucking with my time or driving in front of/around me, can be quite entertaining. Though Southwest airlines . com doesn't exactly have it advertised on their site the way they load a plane, they have been around for a shit long time and have been dubbed 'The Cattle Call Airline' for as long as I can recall. You'd think people would figure it out from that? Or, you know, like you said: listen to the announcements being made while they are waiting to board?

Christy said...

Tom Bihn bags are amazing! While they don't have wheels, you won't have to worry about them getting beaten up by the airlines. They are also made in the USA, if that sort of thing matters to you.