My family and I just returned from our third trip to Orlando, and this was our third time flying as well. This was our first time flying with Southwest. On our previous 2 trips we flew with AirTran. This time Southwest had a better price so we went with them. And I guess the old saying is true - You get what you pay for.
The online booking process was simple and quick. But the I soon learned that Southwest does not give assigned seating. So exactly 24 hours prior to our flight leaving I had to be online printing out our boarding passes and hoping to get in boarding group A in order for my family to be able to all sit together. It worked out fine for the trip down and we were able to sit together, but we really didn't like the whole process and not having an assigned seat.
The flight down from Pittsburgh to Orlando went well. Coming back was when the problems began. I went to my hotel's business center 24 hour prior to our flight home to print off our boarding passes. There were other vacationers there and they told me that Southwest's website had been down for hours. So we waited and waited. One woman even called Southwest to see when they expected to be back online, but got no real answer. I finally gave up and left. I came back a few hours later and was able to print them, we were in boarding group B.
Our flight was scheduled to leave Orlando at 4:20pm. We boarded the plane around 4:00 in group B and in order for all 4 of us to be able to sit remotely close to each other we had to go clear to the last 2 rows of the plane. After awhile the flight attendants came on the speaker and were asking if anyone could change seats so that a 6 year old little girl could sit with her dad. They asked about 3 times. I'm not sure if anyone ever changed seats or not, we were so far back that we couldn't see. I guess I just don't understand the whole concept of not assigning seats, it seems like it would just be so much easier to assign them in the first place. Pretty soon the pilot comes on and tells us that there is a "luggage issue" and we won't be leaving on time. So now we boarded the plane at 4:00, were supposed to leave at 4:20, but actually left at 4:45. Got to Pittsburgh around 6:45 and then had to wait at the gate for 30 more minutes to be let off the plane. Now we have been on this plane for over 3 hours for what should be less than a 2 hour flight. Needless to say I had 2 tired and grumpy children.
So we head to baggage claim. Waited at least 30-40 more minute and finally got our luggage. One of our pieces of luggage was broken. The handle was completely ripped off and the seam at the back was ripped open. I quickly inspected inside and saw that nothing was missing and told my husband that I would contact Southwest in a few days, as we all really just wanted to get home. Long story short (after a lot of phone calls and bad customer service) they claim that they are not liable for the handle (even if we had reported it right away) and that it was too late to do anything about the ripped luggage.
Overall a bad experience with Southwest. We have never had any issues at all with AirTran. This was very disappointing.