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‘So I guess Southwest has invented time travel’: Airline sends passengers bizarre flight changes

  • August 12, 2020

“We’ve made a change to your upcoming trip.”

Joanie Tran knows airline emails with that subject line are rarely good news, especially during a pandemic when airlines are cutting flights.

But the flight changes Southwest Airlines sent the 28-year-old human resources manager and her family and friends Tuesday for a September vacation in Lake Tahoe are a doozy.

Tran’s nonstop flight from San Diego to Reno, Nevada, turned into a connecting flight via Oakland, California. That’s not a dealbreaker, but this is: the connecting flight Southwest booked her on leaves 10 minutes before the first flight lands.

Her sister’s new itinerary doesn’t even make sense. She was on the same nonstop San Diego-Reno flight as the entire group of 15, but the new reservation shows her departing trip beginning in Oakland, stopping in Las Vegas and arriving in Reno. It also lists, for the same day but under “returning flight,” a San Diego-Oakland flight at a time when she is due to be in the air from Oakland to Las Vegas.

“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “They have it all mixed up.”

Southwest Airlines says the confusing information affected travelers received is preliminary and that new flights will be arranged.

Karen Doltz can relate. She received a similar email from Southwest Tuesday. Her September flight from Philadelphia to San Diego is only departing an hour earlier than she’d booked, but the new connecting flight in Chicago takes off an hour before she is scheduled to land there.

“So I guess Southwest has invented time travel?” Doltz joked in a post on Southwest’s Facebook page.

Southwest downplayed the nonsensical flight changes, saying passengers are receiving preliminary flight change information that has not been finalized. Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins said the affected travelers’ itineraries are still under review because the airline prioritizes near-term travel, defined as in the next two weeks.

Due to weaker than expected travel demand as COVID-19 cases spiked, the airline recently scrubbed a significant number of flights scheduled between Sept. 6 and Oct. 7.  Hawkins said the airline “successfully changed” 95% of those reservations, leaving 5% percent awaiting final changes.

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