I’m back in LUV with Southwest

Diane is back in business as Southwest's ambassador

Diane is officially back in business as Southwest's ambassador

If you’ll recall from a previous posting, Wessel, and I had Southwest Airlines dividend miles we couldn’t use before they expired in early May. Then we learned that one can extend the miles for a year for $50. Not a bad deal!

When I called to extend mine in Feb. I was told that the one-year extension started the day I requested it instead of a year from the expiration date, so would expire Feb. 19, 2010. That would be in effect cutting three months off my rewards time! So I chose to wait and call back in May, so it would be good until May 2010.

Southwest airplanes at Tampa International Airport

Airplanes at Tampa International Airport

I called Wessel to warn him. Too late. Not only had he already extended his a few hours earlier, he specifically verified that the new extension date was April 25, 2010. “Are you sure,” I asked him twice. “Yes,” he said. “Well, if I were you I’d call back and check.” Sure enough, the new representative he got told him the expiration date is Feb. 19, 2010. Not only did he lose two months on his award period, they said they couldn’t change the date or issue him a refund. Even I called and pleaded his case, to no avail, though I was encouraged to write a letter to Customer Service.

Meanwhile, being a travel writer and all, I complained about the policy to a Southwest media relations person. What I loved about his response was 1) he didn’t try to gloss things over and 2) he wasn’t offering me special favors. I always hate when I’m offered a favor because I’m “press.” What I want is for policies to change for everyone. Special treatment to me doesn’t help anyone but me.

Here’s part of his reply:

Apologies were expressed for a policy not in the `Spirit` of Southwest

A forgiving customer service department honored the spirit of Southwest

“The truth is, we don’t receive many complaints about this policy, and it is very unusual for one of our Agents to misinform our Members of the expiration date. (He also later apologized for that misinformation.) In fact, we often hear from our Members who praise us for the generous policy of extending the Awards for a $50 fee. …. Unfortunately, we can’t make an exception to our rules — if we did it for one, in all fairness, we would need to do it for all, and I’m afraid that’s not something we can do. We’re terribly sorry we’ve disappointed such a long-time, happy Customer, and we hope that you and Wessel will have the opportunity to take a trip before your Awards expire.”

200905_34_SouthwestJust for fun, I wrote a letter to Customer Service anyway, as a customer not a media person. A week later, they called! They gave Wessel the extra time! They made an exception for a loyal customer! That was cool. Even the media guy was surprised when I later emailed him with the news.

All is forgiven. I’m back to LUVing Southwest. Phew.

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