Airlines are not known for being overly generous, that said, Southwest did step-up and compensate me for a delayed flight.
Now before I begin, airlines DO NOT have to compensate you for delayed flights, they are only obligated to get you to your final destination. The ‘partial’ exception to that rule is when an airline experiences mechanical issues, not weather, they will compensate you for long delays.
In the case with my flight last week, my ‘dead-head’ from Sacramento to Phoenix had an issue with the plane’s air speed indicator heating element. We had already pushed back from the gate when the pilot told us our current plane would not be leaving the ground. This type of mechanical/electrical issue is an automatic “no fly” so it resulted in us having to switch to another plane.
Fortunately, there was another plane a few gates away that had just landed and we were able to re-board in a somewhat swift fashion. The biggest bummer is that our flight crew seemed to care more about getting to Phoenix before midnight than honoring our boarding positions. When they started letting anyone with a ticket board it quickly turned into herding cattle. I overheard a few irritated passengers, who paid for early-bird ticketing, gripe about how they were going to have to sit in the back of the plane after all this headache.
Not too long after boarding our backup aircraft we had pushed back and were on our way. The plane switch ultimately resulted in us arriving about 70 minutes late. Not terrible in the scheme of things, but we were still rather late, at the fault of Southwest Airlines.
Southwest will generally compensate you, if you ask, fifty-ish dollars every hour that you are late. (due to mechanical issues). This can really depending on a number of circumstances, but that is usually the guideline they honor.
From this page, you can click “send email” and send them a note about your delayed flight and why you feel you should be compensated. So long as you are not frequently hitting them up for compensation, they will do the right thing and send you a LUV voucher (free Southwest money!)
Moral of the story, if your flight is delayed due to issues ‘within’ the airline’s control, don’t be afraid to send them an email kindly requesting to be compensated for your inconvenience. What is the worst that can happen?