Southwest 50% off Sale Fiasco Update

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Two days ago Southwest was offering 50% off all flights on select dates in September, October, and November. While dates were limited and only involved Tuesdays and Wednesdays, many many many people were still able to take full advantage – enough that it caused major IT issues on their side. I personally was able to book a roundtrip flight from LAX to EWR for $150 something roundtrip. I also have the companion ticket, so that means two of us are flying for this price – not too shabby!

Well, if any of you book with Southwest often, you are probably well aware that these limited time sales kill their IT system. Not only was the site down/slow most of Friday afternoon, the reservation line was going directly to a busy signal. Those that were able to get through on the phone were given a two hour wait.

The main issue is that many people were book on multiple reservations and these costs hitting their credit card/debit card 10+ times. The good news is that Southwest became completely aware of this problem and put its team to work quickly. While this error actually didn’t affect me (I guess I got lucky!), Southwest is going through each reservation manually to cancel out duplicate bookings. If this happened to you, no need to call Southwest (at least that is what Southwest is saying), and they will fix the error for all customers.

Southwest states:

“The overwhelming response from Customers who took advantage of our August 3 limited-time offer that we launched to celebrate three million Fans on Facebook created website performance issues at various times during the day. We realize that some Customers were charged more than once for the same reservation and we want to ensure you that we have all hands on deck actively working to process refunds for any duplicate charges.

Here is a status of those efforts:

  • First, we want you to know that we are working to identify duplicate bookings and charges and are proactively cancelling those additional reservations, processing refunds to the Customer. In order to process the refunds as quickly as possible, we have called in additional staff support.
  • For those Customers who used debit cards and have received overdraft fees as a result of the additional charges, we will process a reimbursement for all overdraft fees that were caused by duplicate charges from Southwest for a single purchase. If you incurred overdraft fees, please fax documentation of those fees via a letter from your bank or a copy of your account showing the fees to 877-506-0154.

Southwest Airlines is committed to providing our Customers with exceptional service both online and onboard. It is our goal to rectify this issue as quickly as possible and minimize any inconvenience to you our valued Customers. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact us at”

While I am sure no one is pleased to have thousands of extra dollars sitting on their credit card right now, hopefully this will be fixed asap. And the good news is that if you used a debit card to make your reservation (although I know no one reading this blog would ever do that, right!) they will reimburse your overdraft fees. One step in the right direction Southwest.

While I really am a fan of Southwest and they do run some pretty good deals from time to time (although getting to be less and less), they really really really need to work on their IT systems. They are just horrible!

Aside from this major IT glitch, anyone able to get a great deal with Southwest?!

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  1. Although their IT clearly has issues that we have seen from this sale, I find the SWA website to be the easiest to use of all the airlines. Very easy to change a flight at any time with no fee and it walks you through that process, easy to find your flights and easy to cancel. I often book flights ahead of time with no idea whether I can go because of this great flexibility. I can’t do that with any other airlines because the change fees are so expensive. Also, I love the points with fixed value since I am mostly a short haul domestic traveler. Often at short notice, you can still get flights for only 10-20,000 points that would be 50,000 miles with most airlines due to having the use their maximum amount or rulebuster to get the times you want. But I agree, hopefully they will fix the issues so that high demand does not inconvenience so many customers.

    • @J in NC – I absolutely agree. I love that I can change, cancel, get a credit if a lower flight is found, etc. all online and not having to call Southwest at all. This was a pretty big IT issue thus requiring them to pull the 50% off sale early so it was not a full 24 hour sale. Kudos to them, however, for getting in extra staff to work on this issue immediately and refunding duplicate reservations. Some other airlines (i.e., United) do not address mishaps for many days.

      I am keeping my fingers crossed that maybe they’ll offer the sale again since they had to pull it early?

  2. Was sorry i missed this sale even though i had no need to purchase travel on the 6 or so days covered by the sale. Now i a have absolutely no regrets!

  3. I won’t even bother with their sales anymore…every time they offer one, I cannot get the website to complete even one search. This was like the 3rd time in a row.

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