Here's my story about how Southwest has completely ruined my plans to visit family for the holidays:
I signed up for a Southwest Chase card last year because they were advertising a two-flight credit signing bonus. I have used the card quite a bit recently, with a very poor return on points I might add.
When I originally signed up, the fine print said the flights expired after two years. Since I read it carefully before I signed up, I thought I was agreeing to the actual program terms. Well it turns out it wasn't true, since I found out last month that the expiration date had been set to NOVEMBER 7 2011. Great! Turns out, instead of issuing a credit that could be turned into an "award", they issued the "award."
What's worse, I found out recently that the Chase card came with a big $60 renewal fee! I am in the process of looking to get a mortgage for a house, so there is no way I could have canceled the card without hurting my credit. I called SW Chase up, got a speech from some low-level rep and a manager. I didn't get anywhere when the manager rudely transferred me to the SW rapid rewards automated line without saying he was going to do so. So as much as I hated to, I chalked it up to a flight expense.
So today, I went to book a flight for the dates December 23rd and December 31st (not heavily traveled days!). Guess what, I couldn't because the award did not allow booking past the expiration! So I paid the $50 reissue fee, knowing that I was absolutely going to book the flight... just another hefty expense. Then I went to book it again... and the booking schedule said there were no seats available! WHAT????
So I called up the service desk. I spoke to some woman who could only repeat the same information from the booking screen. I asked to speak with a manager. She transferred me to someone else who repeated the same thing and kept saying NO, NO, NO... CAN'T HELP YOU.. THERE ARE NO AWARD SEATS AVAILABLE.
Yeah, some great service. Nothing like... "maybe we could combine your awards"... nothing like... "let's see what we can do the help you." Nope, just "The $50 renewal fee is NON-REFUNDABLE, NO there's nothing we can do, NO, NO, NO. But we can still book it for you if you pay us $900."
So, worst of all is the reason I need to book the flight: I am going to visit my sister, who lives 1364 miles away and who I have not seen in a year. She is due to have her first child, my first nephew, and I was intending to be there for this once-in-a-lifetime even. Also, my work required me to take the time off in advance. Now I am going to have to pay NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS to visit her and her husband on Christmas? What kind of a ripoff is that? Seems like a veiled form of bait-and-switch in my opinion.
So, here are the numbers. $60 credit card renewal fee. $50 award renewal fee, Plus $50 for the renewal of the other award. Total of $160! And yet I have no flight booking, and "awards" that I cannot use for where I need to go. So now I am backed into a corner with the only option of having to pay $900.
Thank you very much for taking my money and ruining the holidays for me, Southwest.