Dear Southwest, I Love You (a.k.a. Maria: It’s Amazing What Can Happen in 24 Hours)

So for the last 2 years Southwest Airlines has been my “go to” airline since moving to the Hill Country. I can fly out of Austin (most of the time), and occasionally out of San Antonio. No one has more fun, better customer service or lower prices! And they have, by far, the best point system in the airline industry! I have only been with them a little over 2 years and have flown on points (with a significant amount of points still left over) a family of 4 to California, my mom to Austin, a ticket to NYC, and 2 tickets to Puerto Rico!

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It’s those last 2 tickets I want to talk about…

So it’s Kelly and I’s 25th wedding anniversary this year, and we decided to go see our friends in Puerto Rico! Yes it’s hurricane season, but it’s really affordable! And with Irma just going through, they have had “their storm” for the season. We almost canceled when Irma went through, but it went north and didn’t effect Rincon at all. So we said let’s go… When we checked the tropics on Friday, there was as a disturbance with about a 50% chance of developing, so we got on the plane Saturday morning at 8am…

When we got off the plane (5pm) and started driving to Rincon, Kelly pulled up a video on the Weather Channel app and this is what we heard…

“It’s just amazing what can happen in 24 hours!” – Way Too Chipper Weather Channel Lady!

Yes in just 24 hours, a tropical wave became a hurricane, and they called her Maria. And our no stress, no schedule, 4 days in paradise turned into “trying to get a flight off this island”!  (BTW Rincon is AMAZING, but that’s another blog coming soon…)

So we wake up Sunday morning, and start trying to find a flight off the island… We are looking for a Tuesday flight out so we can at least enjoy a couple of days… Nope, none available, well let’s look at Monday… There’s a 2pm, got to call… Nope those last seats just went bye bye…. The Southwest agent on the phone was TRULY SORRY that she couldn’t get us on a flight, and with no Hurriciane Watch or Warning issues for Puerto Rico, there wasn’t much more they could do…

Looked at Jet Blue, no flights, American, no flights, Delta, no flights…  Searched on Kayak, Expedia, Orbitz, nothing! Hey there are 2 seats on United, and they want $1000, EACH! We didn’t get those…

So over the next 24 hours, we called Southwest two more times, when we saw seats pop up, but by the time we got to an agent, they were gone… Each time, the SW agent on the other end of the phone was kind, empathetic and truly wanted to help us!

At this point, now Monday morning, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we were gonna have to ride this storm out. So we went snorkeling! Here…

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What else were we going to do? Might as well enjoy it while we can…

But I was still constantly looking at my SW app, and other apps to find a flight… 4pm on Monday it happened, Southwest added 3 more flights on Tuesday to get off the island! We found this in the app in the special announcements section, everyone had to call to get this reservation…

Called, did the call back option, and they called back in 40 minutes. While I was making the reservation Verizon service went down, lost the call!. Called back, started making the changes, the call dropped again. This was BEYOND stressful, I could just see the seats on the plane disappearing one by one as time passed by!

Went and stood outside, where it looked like reception was best, and called for a third time. I spent over 40 minutes on the phone, my reservation was changed over rather quickly, but Kelly was on companion pass with points. For some reason the system was not letting us change her flight as well. The awesome lady helping us on the phone said “I will get this done, please hold. She came back two more times, said she had her manager on it and would make this work. And finally about 5pm we had 2 tickets to “get off the island”

Here’s the point I want to make, EVERY SINGLE SOUTHWEST AGENT did whatever they could to help us, were empathetic to our cause, and felt genuinely frustrated when they couldn’t get us on a flight. And the last lady spent an hour just getting us on! Also the flight was only $92 one way if you were buying it, they weren’t trying to make money, they were just trying to get people off the island at cost. Since the return ticket was so low, they actually refunded 12,000 of my points cause the cost went down! That’s crazy!!!

And the Southwest staff at the airport were ALL about getting us off the island. These people were going back to their homes that night to ride out the storm, but were happy to get us out of there! Think about that…

Dear Southwest, you have my thanks, my wife’s thanks, my family’s thanks and my undying loyalty going forward!


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