This is an issue that I first noticed happening over a year ago while trying to access Southwest from Greece. All of a sudden, I received the message “Access Denied” when trying to access the Southwest website.
At Least 15 Countries Affected by Southwest Blocking Access
Since that time, I have been in contact with many people from Southwest trying to make some sense of why they are blocking certain countries. Also since that time and one of my first posts on the subject, I have received hundreds of comments and e-mails from would-be Southwest customers that are extremely frustrated in their inability to access the Southwest website.
When I first mentioned it to Twitter, their response was:
@runwithmiles Thanks for the heads up, Charlie. We are aware of the issues with international access, and we’re working on a fix. ^AB
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) May 20, 2016
What To Do
Everyone that has reached out to them as well receive similar responses. The problem is we don’t want to call and search through calendars to make a reservation! Yes, VPNs work and even accessing the mobile site or going through the app works for many. But, the problem is that Southwest is losing money and customers by blocking access to their website from certain countries.
I have received so many notes of frustration by those who are headed back to the US from a trip abroad and were trying to check-in at the 24 hour mark to get their seat for when they would arrive in the US. Guess what? They are not able to check-in which means they must wait until they land and then do it – and wind up with high “C” numbers which normally means they sit apart.
I am not quite sure what the reasoning is behind this move. According to all of the people I have spoken with, it is not something intentional. If it was intentional, it would be kind of dumb because the blocked countries that I know about so far are not ones where people may travel infrequently to the US. They are places like Sweden, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and even Guatemala! Considering the fact that Southwest flies to the neighboring countries of Mexico and Belize, that seems to be a particular error in judgement to block Guatemala.
Losing Money – and Customers
This should be a relatively easy fix – if Southwest wanted to do it. But it seems that they feel it is not enough of a priority on this issue. I suggest that if you are in an affected country or are traveling to one that you reach out to Southwest on Twitter or some other avenue to let them know how frustrating it is to have problems like this. It would be one thing if checking in wasn’t such a big deal but they have made a boarding model which does prioritize the time of check in for seat selection. Sure, you can purchase their extra to give you an earlier boarding number but that is definitely not something everyone wants to (nor should they need to) do when it is Southwest’s problem!
So, here is the list of countries that I know are affected by the Southwest blocking. In a strange twist, while checking some of them, I found that certain cities in some of these countries do allow access.
- Hong Kong
- South Africa
Here is a sample of the comments I have received that should give Southwest an idea of how this is affecting many people.
My Plea to Southwest
You have a great airline with some great employees working for you. You have a great model that serves millions of people very well and I am a big promoter of your airline (and send you a lot of business). But, this is one area where you are falling quite a bit short and as you further expand your international reach, it would be nice if you would do the same digitally as well for all of your fans around the world.
Leave a comment below if you have received the “Access Denied” message from the Southwest website. Also, let us know which country you tried to access their site from.