Southwest Airlines workers take their 100th Boeing 737-700 to a gate at Love Field Airport in Dallas so that they may put it into operation, Thursday, April 5, 2001. The plane had been on display for reporters to tour during media day at the Southwest Airlines headquarters in Dallas. In foreground reporters have lunch. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)
Contact The Fixer
Are you being given the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at
www.southtownstar.com, where you’ll find a simple form to fill out.
If you don’t have a computer, you can mail a brief description of your problem, along with your name, address and telephone number, to: The Fixer, SouthtownStar, 6901 W. 159th St., Tinley Park, IL 60477. Please don’t send original documents. Because of the large volume of submissions, The Fixer cannot make personal replies. Letters are edited for length and clarity.
Updated: January 23, 2012 2:44AM
Dear Fixer: On Feb. 11, I planned a trip to Las Vegas with a friend. The flight was to have departed from Midway on May 12.
Things didn’t work out and I called Southwest Airlines to inquire about canceling my friend’s ticket. They said fine, except they would not credit my credit card. They said I could only get a credit with them, which is fine, because I fly with Southwest whenever I can.
I called to inquire about how much my credit was so I could book another flight. I was told that I only have a $461 credit and that $421 had been credited to my friend.
When I first made these reservations, my friend gave me cash and I put the whole $882 on my credit card. I have since given my friend her share back.
The customer service rep I talked to said that the president of Southwest put out a directive not to refund tickets to the purchaser anymore. She would not let me talk to a supervisor.
All I want is the money put back into my name. It was originally billed to my credit card, so I don’t see why this cannot be done.
John Kennedy, Tinley Park
Dear John: We wish we had better news for you, but it looks like the moral of this story is if you put airline tickets on your credit card, make sure you’re traveling with someone you wouldn’t feel shy about asking for money later.
You told Team Fixer that a Southwest customer service agent told you that as of April 29, if a customer cancels a trip, the airline no longer credits the person whose credit card was used, but the person whose name was on the ticket.
It’s cold comfort, but you’re not alone. Soon after we got your letter, we heard from Conrad Bradich, of Eagle River, Wis., who had an eerily similar tale.
Conrad and two brothers from the Chicago area were going to fly to Vegas in January, but their plans changed. Conrad had paid for all three tickets with his American Express card.
He and his wife later called Southwest to book a flight for themselves with the credit, and found out that instead of having credit for three tickets, Southwest had allotted separate travel vouchers for his brothers. AmEx tried to dispute his credit card charge, with no success.
We got in touch with Laurel Moffat in Southwest’s media relations office, to find out what’s up with all this. She said the policy of only refunding the ticketholder — and not the person who paid for the tickets — had been on its books for years, but Southwest only recently began enforcing it.
The policy is spelled out in Southwest’s Contract of Carriage, but Moffat said they used to make exceptions “as a gesture of goodwill.” The change was a business decision, she said, not anything mandated by the TSA.
Kids + hot cars = danger
With the warm weather finally upon us, The Fixer wants to remind all parents and caregivers to never leave a child in a hot car — even with the windows cracked — for any amount of time.
According to the advocacy group Kids and Cars, last year there was a record 49 deaths of infants and children nationwide attributed to heat stroke from being left in a hot vehicle.
Through May 31 of this year, eight kids have already died. Since 1998, more than 500 have died.
Danger can come quickly, with the temperature inside a car increasing 35 degrees in less than 30 minutes on a hot day, Kids and Cars says. An infant can die in as little as 15 minutes even on a relatively mild 75-degree day.
Sadly, a busy or distracted parent can easily forget their baby is strapped in the back seat. Here are tips to prevent this:
— Put something on the back seat next to the baby’s car seat, such as your phone, employee ID badge, purse, etc., so there is no way you could space out and forget the baby is in the car.
— Put your child’s stuffed animal on the front passenger seat to serve as another reminder.
— Always check the back seat when leaving your vehicle.
For more tips, check out KidsAndCars.org.