Southwest Airlines - Wllful Violation of Tarmac Delay Regulations and Unlawful Retailaition for Exercise of DOT Guaranteed Passenger Rights
My wife and I were on May 15, 2014, subjected by Southwest Airlines to abuse, unreasonable delay and willful and flagrant violation of DOT regulations. And to unlawful denial of transportation in direct and illegal retaliation for exercising our rights as guaranteed by DOT regulations.When we arrived at BWI, our Southwest flight 1968 scheduled 5:15 PM to Buffalo had been delayed.It finally boarded and doors were closed about 6:00 PM. We were then subjected to a 2 ½ hour tarmac delay, not quite enough to violate the DOT prohibition on 3 hours per se. But the Captain and crew willfully and flagrantly violated every other DOT regulation regarding tarmac delays:1)They failed to update passengers on flight status every 30 minutes as required.2)They failed to provide adequate food and water as required. In 2 ½ hours they offered water only once, and refused beer and wine service and did not offer soft drinks or anything else to drink. They offered nothing to eat but small bags of salted peanuts, which only aggravated thirst and dehydration, even though they had more substantial snacks they could have offered.3)They willfully violated the requirement the passengers have adequate access to toilets, as the captain left the seat belt light on the entire time. And flight attendants attempted to intimidate passengers into remaining in their seats with no access to toilets. When I went to the forward toilet, a male flight attendant verbally abused me, trying to use the seat belt sign to intimidate me into not exercising my guaranteed right to use the toilet.I made several requests to return to the gate, citing that my wife and I will both be 65 within two months. The captain rejected all these requests. After two hours he announced we were taking off. But instead returned to the gate where he continued not to allow the passengers to deplane. Finally my wife and I demanded to deplane as we were both suffering from headache, nausea and dehydration. She is an RN and recognizes the dangers of these conditions, especially in older people. She also measured an elevated pulse rate in herself. After we had reduced body temperatures and pulse rates and rehydrated in the air conditioned terminal, we attempted to reboard. But we were confronted by the same male flight attendant who had abused and attempted to intimidate me when exercising my right to access toilets. He was now hiding his name badge under his shirt to prevent us identifying him. He stated he would not allow us to reboard because I had been "disruptive", meaning I had exercised my right to use the toilets, had asked to return to the gates, and had demanded to deplane when my wife and I had already become physically ill as the direct result of Southwest’s willful misconduct. In fact I had not used obscene or even discourteous language to any member of the crew. And if I spoke louder than he liked, it is only because over my industrial career, I have suffered significant hearing loss.
A female gate agent at BWI spoke to the captain on the aircraft and attempted to persuade him to reboard us. But although the captain had not witnessed any "disruption", he believed the false account of the abusive flight attendant. And participated in the unlawful retaliation for exercising guaranteed rights. Thru the kind assistance of the female gate agent, we finally reach Buffalo at 12:30 AM, 6 ½ hours after scheduled.
I request that DOT impose the maximum penalty possible on Southwest Airlines. And if possible order Southwest to fire the abusive flight attendant and captain. And consider revoking the captain’s license.
The above complaint has been submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation and to the Dallas area Better Business Bureau. I will see how Southwest respond. When Herb Kelleher was running Southwest, I trust he would have fired the abusive flight attendant and captain.And sent a personal letter of apology to every passenger on that flight. Along with offers of significant compensation.
But since Herb retired, I have watched the culture at Southwest rapidly descend to the level of all other US airlines. All of which are abysmal compared to almost any European airline. I had already concluded that Southwest had sunk to the level of the rest of the US industry, namely horrible. But this incident confirmed for me that Southwest is now the worst of the worst. And what was once the greatest airline in the US is now torture to fly. And as this incident reveals, downright dangerous to one's health. As I have told the Better Business Bureau, I am seeking no monetary compensation for this outrageous and illegal abuse. But that DOT impose the maximum possible penalty. The female gate agent at BWI was the only Southwest employee in this whole sorry episode who acted even remotely in compliance with Southwest's traditional culture or DOT regulations or common decency. She got us rebooked into Buffalo after the flight 1968 captain and crew unlawfully denied us boarding as direct and illegal retaliation for exercising DOT guaranteed passenger rights. And called ahead to Buffalo to insure the car rental stayed open past 1 AM to serve us. And she gave us each a $100 voucher for the abuse we had suffered. We thanked her greatly for this. Herb would be proud of her. But he would not find anyone else to have been proud of that night.
Already when we were denied boarding the crew had begun engaging in lies and denial and coverup of the incident. The abusive flight attendant totally fabricated the story of us being "disruptive". And the captain accepted it despite not having witnessed any such "disruption". And without agreeing to speak to me. No doubt this was to try to cover up his own unlawful conduct in the tarmac delay. Or at least his total negligence in failing to see that the crew complied with clear DOT regulations on food, water a toilet access. And it was he himself who kept the seat belt light on the whole time. And failed to update status every 30 minutes as required. The crew had already falsely begun to claim they had offered water twice in 2 1/2 hours rather than once. And that the tarmac time was much less than it actually was.
So it seems a culture of unlawful conduct and lies and denial and coverups and illegal retaliation has taken hold at Southwest.I hope that top management will be alarmed at this. And take strong and decisive action in this matter to repudiate this culture. And restore traditional Southwest values.
But everything I have seen in the last several year suggests to me that the top management is indeed deliberately imposing this horribly negative culture and condoning and supporting it. I hope to be proven wrong by strong ethical reaction to this incident. But I very much doubt it.
My wife and I who had been loyal Southwest customers for decades, will never book Southwest again. We may not even take our return flights.Or use the vouchers so thoughtful given us by the BWI gate agent.A few hundred dollars is not worth endangering our lives as Southwest did on this flight.
But I nevertheless hope that Southwest top management will take strong action in this matter. And that if they do not, DOT will.
I will caution you that your response to me, if any, will be immediately shared with FAA and DOT. And any attempt to engage in the same intimidation and retaliation already practiced with impunity by you flight crew will result in further complaints to DOT.
Review about: Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant.
Monetary Loss: $1000.