Traveling Turns South by Southwest

Woe is the traveler this summer who flies for business or pleasure. As gas prices have gone through the roof, the airlines have responded by taking it out on passengers, raising ticket prices, adding fees for checked bags, canceling routes and charging for food.

As a result, Westword decided to begin Part 2 of a contest we first ran eight years ago asking people to describe how United Airlines in particular had ruined their summer vacations. This time, we expanded our target to the entire airline industry.

Have a complaint? A horror story like these? Still trying to reclaim lost baggage, missing vouchers or lost dignity? If so, e-mail us at [email protected] or post your thoughts here. The best bad tale wins a free trip -- on Amtrak.

But first, read the submission below. -- Jonathan Shikes

My favorite gripe (and there have been many) was when about three years ago, I flew from Portland, Oregon to Lawrence, Kansas to attend the Wakarusa music festival.

I flew Southwest and I had to connect through Oakland. There was about a 45-minute layover so, like any normal person, I went to wander and get a drink before boarding. I came back about fifteen minutes later and the plane was gone. Gone. I checked my watch five times to make sure I wasn't hallucinating, the plane wasn't scheduled to depart for thirty more minutes!

I frantically asked the gate agent WTF was going on, and he replied, "We had to push off early, to free gate space." I was stunned, as were about six other people that "missed" the plane.

Needless to say this was the last flight out to Kansas, and SWA doesn't partner with other airlines, so I wasn't going anywhere until the next day. They put me up in some stanky hotel right on the freeway. I was furious-a vacation day and part of the festival was lost.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes

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