So we were among the thousands of people stranded by Southwest last week, trying to make it to a long-planned milestone occasion. I awoke at 12:15am on Sunday morning to read a 11:30pm Saturday text from Southwest. That text said that our flight to Atlanta was canceled. Oh, the connecting flight after that was allegedly fine, but not the one that could get us to that connection.

Because I am one of those people who have had A-List Preferred status (along with a yearly Companion Pass, plus hundreds of thousands of points), I reached a Southwest agent who told me:

There were no flights to where we were going on Monday, no matter how we tried to route ourselves there.

There were no flights on Tuesday.

There was nothing that Southwest could do. Pretty much ever. No promises of a return flight on Saturday. No way to reroute us. Nothing.

I asked why. The agent didn’t know. He guessed “weather,” but since our destination had zero weather problems for any of the other airlines, that explanation didn’t make sense.

Who was available to help on Saturday night/Sunday morning? Our travel agent (Mary Ellen McDaniel of The Travel Authority), who had booked our milestone trip months earlier, and our Delta messaging agent (Loela Lou). Loela got us on flights on Delta (the last two seats, by the way–each way) so that we missed only one day of our trip, and the Delta experience on each leg was beyond pleasant. It was superb.

Southwest doesn’t have any arrangements with any other airline, so it couldn’t rebook us or any of the thousands upon thousands of people who, like us, had trusted Southwest and its touted customer service.

What did we get from Southwest? Not a $250 voucher, but a promise of an eventual $250 voucher. By our count, that only leaves us $3,500 short in terms of how we had to scramble to catch our flights a day later than we had planned.

I know that we’re lucky. We had saved enough to be able to afford to salvage our trip. But there are countless people whose plans were also ruined. Southwest needs to up its game significantly to regain customer loyalty. In the meantime? We “LUV” Delta these days.

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