For those of you who care, I am being forced to write a letter, and mail in printed pictures (how archaic is that?) as proof that Southwest needs to do something about replacing my stroller. We will see what happens. And, what’s your opinion? Should they replace it? Or was it my fault for trusting them in the first place?
To Whom It May Concern: January 25, 2013
I am writing this letter to file an additional complaint regarding my recent trip with Southwest airlines where my stroller was damaged to the point that I feel it is no longer safe to use for my kids.
I will begin this letter by saying that I rarely fly on Southwest. I have been a Delta Skymiles member for several years. However, our recent trip to California for my family of 5 had to be booked at the last minute due to a death in the family. My husband’s grandfather passed away, and it was important for us to attend, even at the last minute. We have 3 small children ages 6, 4, and 1 and having to fly is very difficult. Especially when it comes to the cost of flying. So, your airline had the cheapest options for our family. It required a plane change and layover both ways to get the cheapest fare, but since the trip was important, we decided that we had to do it. We spent $1466 I believe in purchasing the tickets.
Since we were going to be traveling for 5 days, we felt it was necessary to bring our double stroller. While our 1 year old is technically the only one who needs it, having 2 other kids traveling that often need to rest, we needed to have an extra seat in case the other ones get tired, which happens pretty much every time we go anywhere. You cannot forget the fact that with children comes lots of extra gear including 3 car seats we had to bring, a portable crib, 3 bags of luggage, a diaper bag full of necessities and bottles, and formula and all the stuff to keep 3 kids fed and happy for a long day of travel. Even having two able-bodied parents, it is a lot of stuff to carry. So having a good stroller, I feel is key.
Our stroller was purchased used for $375 about 2 years ago. It retails for $700. It is a Phil & Ted’s Dash model with what they refer to as the “double kit”. While I understand this is a very expensive product, it was a sacrifice for our family to purchase it used in the first place. However, it is very compact, and therefore the only stroller that would fit in our car. There is no way that we can now replace this stroller on our own now that it has been damaged to the extent that it has been damaged. It would be a financial strain on our family.
For the first leg of our flight from SLC to Phoenix, our stroller was brought up to the ramp, and we used it for our layover. It was functioning properly with no issues. However, when the stroller was brought up to us after the last leg of our flight, we were the last ones off the plane. Because of this, the flight crew was standing there waiting for us to exit the ramp. They were witness to the fact that our stroller, which was folded, would not open and secure properly. They told us to take our stroller down to baggage claim to make a report. Which, we did immediately.
The stroller’s frame appears to be bent. While this may just seem like “damage” to your airline, the problem is that with the frame bent, the stroller will no longer latch into place properly. So, in my opinion, the damage is the same thing as my stroller being “lost” because I can no longer use it and feel like I can keep my children secure and safe.
For your reference, I believe it would be helpful to you to watch the following YouTube video showing how the stroller folds and unfolds. The link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGmlAhuqhjUI or you can search for Phil & Ted’s Dash with double kit by Kiddicare. It gives a good demonstration of how the stroller works and will help you in seeing why the latch that was damaged is essential to the stroller working safely. She shows how it folds and unfolds at the very end of the video. She refers to knowing that your stroller is ready to use when you hear it click into place. It no longer does that.
I have also included some photos of the damage. In the photos, I do not have the second seat attached to the back because there is no damage to that seat or problems with it. The problem is with the main stroller frame, which is where the heavier child is supposed to sit (while the smaller child still sits in back). The Youtube video will help you understand that easier.
My husband was able to force the frame into the latch. However, it no longer will fold unless you push on the broken frame while also trying to do the buttons at the top that releases the latch. This is impossible for one person to do alone. So, if I do wish to continue to use this stroller broken by forcing the latch into place, I would not be able to fold it down and unfold it anymore by myself. This makes the stroller practically useless to a mom of 3 kids that is always on the go and needing to use my stroller all the time, even when my husband isn’t there to help me fold and unfold it now that it is broken.
I understand that you are not responsible for “damages”. I have had parts go missing off of strollers before in previous flights with delta like a cup holder, or a broken snap or something. However, I have never had a stroller damaged to this extent. My whole point in writing this letter is to point out that I may as well have “lost” the stroller because it is no longer usable.
On our trip home, we did bring the stroller with us again instead of checking it even though we did not feel comfortable putting our older children in the front. On THAT leg of our trip, (which was a disaster in and of itself due to major delays) we received our stroller on the ramp covered in some sort of white liquid and smelling strongly of vinegar. It seems that there needs to be some sort of responsibility taken by an airline of your things when you pay so much to travel. I don’t understand how the entire frame of a stroller could get bent the way it did unless there was some serious negligence on the part of the airlines. This frame is impossible to bend with your hands, so a large amount of weight had to have been placed on top of it, or perhaps it was thrown or mishandled in some way.
Last, I would like to say that I had 4 employees tell me that they would never bring their “nice stroller” on a trip. It seems wrong to me that if I have to modify my entire trip by bringing a crappy, cheap stroller that would not hold all my things, or both of my children for a 2 hour flight, then there is something wrong with the system. An umbrella stroller won’t hold a cup, or storage underneath, or another child, and when you are traveling for 5 days, and paying close to $1500, it seems I should be able to have confidence in the airline that for my 2 hour flight, my stroller will at least be usable at the end of it. I hope someone from your airline will be able fix this situation and make me feel better about flying your airline again one day.