Credit where it’s due

Several weeks ago, I made plans to travel to Pittsburgh with my family on Southwest Airlines. For various reasons we ended up having to cancel that trip. Even though we got Southwest’s lowest, web-only, nonrefundable fares, we were able to bank the entire value of the canceled tickets in a Southwest “Ticketless Travel Funds” account for later use, with no cancellation fee at all. Thanks, Southwest!

On Saturday night I went back to Southwest to apply those funds toward a family trip to Seattle that we’re now planning. When I got to the payment step on their website and tried to apply the funds, I got the message that the Ticketless Travel servers were down for routine maintenance and I should try back at such-and-such a time. When I retried, the servers were working — but the airfare had gone up!

So I called their customer service number and spoke to a friendly, helpful person who listened to the story, appeared to pull some strings — and was able to get me the lower fare even though it had nominally expired, and was nominally web-only. Thanks, Southwest!

However, for some technical reason she could not apply the Ticketless Travel funds, so I had to use my credit card to make a new airfare purchase. She suggested I try escalating to a special customer relations department during normal business hours. (This was the middle of the night on Saturday.)

Today I called the special customer relations department and spoke to another friendly, helpful person who said, “I’m sorry, I just have no way to retroactively apply Ticketless Travel funds to an already-purchased itinerary… hang on a second…” I listened to a lot of keyboard tapping and then the woman announced, “OK, I have a new reservation for you that uses your Ticketless Travel funds and I can cancel the reservation that used your credit card. Even though that wasn’t refundable I’ve arrange for a refund to your credit card anyway. Shall I proceed?”

Shall I kiss you first? In this age of persistent impotent rage at every aspect of air travel, Southwest stepped up to the customer-service plate big-time. I told them I thought so and promised to give them a shout-out on my blog, so here we are. Thanks, Southwest!

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