Policy to hold last flight
My wife and I, traveling on business, were delayed with 120 other passengers waiting on SWA 1234 (PHX-OAK 19-7-07).
Now, delays are part of flying, right?
Except we had an airplane at the gate.
We had a crew at the gate.
We had no weather problems.
We had no equipment problems...
So, why did 120 people cool their heels for one-and-a-half hours waiting to depart?
SWA had a delayed flight from the east coast and we had to wait for that flight to arrive as our's was the last flight to Oakland that evening. (Note that we were not a continuation or related flight)
Now, this is nice and all, but, because of the delay we were further delayed (almost an hour on the taxiway) by thunderstorms and a dust storm, and then we departed into the thunderstorm (within five miles on takeoff - I am a pilot).
So, first we have a safety issue - I believe that since the dispatcher knew that storms were scheduled they should have released the flight before the weather became an issue.
But second, when asked for documentation of the policy I was told that I'd have to ask corporate, but that there were no definitions. Specifically, I was curious because I have been stranded in-route by SWA - how many pax trigger holding an A/C? For how long (would we have waited to depart until 2AM)? For what cause?
Of course, SWA is a responsive airline with efficient customer relations - oh, that's right - no email!
SWA should make this policy available online (it is not on their web page) and prompt passengers to allow for choice - pop-up a note telling the customer this is the last flight out and that there is a policy that may delay them for hours (we were three hours late for a 1.5 hour flight), providing for the option to select a different one.
Very sad that SWA cannot remember customer service when servicing the customer...
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