Southwest Sent My Flight Confirmation To Someone, But It Wasn't Me

If you like to use a plus sign to create unique addresses in Gmail or another mail system for filtering, spam tracking, or other purposes, don’t try it with Southwest Airlines. Instead of returning an error, Southwest will simply fling your message into the ether, never to be heard from again.

I have had so many problems with airlines in the past that I’m running
out of airlines to fly. I pay extra to fly home several times a year
on Southwest because until now they’ve been the only airline not to
treat me like third class freight. Unfortunately I’ve had my first
negative experience and while it’s not directly related to the flight,
it’s still a pretty bad oversight. I’ll let the message I emailed them
explain it:

Dear Southwest,

I recently purchased tickets for a flight and when asked for my email
address I gave it REDACTED+swa@gmail.com. Unfortunately, your website
drops + symbols from email addresses without any warning and sends the
confirmation email off to whatever the new address is. I am the owner
of REDACTED+swa@gmail.com, but I have no idea who owns
REDACTEDswa@gmail.com. Because of this, my flight confirmation and
itinerary has been sent to a random email address. I hope you didn’t
include any personal information beyond my name and flight schedule in
the emails you sent, because now some random person has them.

If for some reason you have decided not to accept emails with +
characters (which would be absurd, since it’s a valid character for
email addresses) please have the decency to validate the input and
return an error rather than just sending the information to whatever
address it comes out to when you drop the + symbol. Not only is this
unprofessional, but it’s also dangerous to the customers whose
information you’re sending off into the internet. If I can’t count on
Southwest to keep my information secure, I don’t want to continue
flying with you. Please fix this situation so I can keep flying your
airline which I truly love outside of this one event.

Hopefully they’ll fix this bug. Sure I can work around it but I like
being able to have gmail automatically sort my email as it comes in.
Plus it’s nice to know which companies are selling your info to
spammers.

I just got this reply from Southwest:

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for taking the time to contact us. Because your inquiry
requires further research, we are forwarding your e-mail to our
Customer Relations Department for proper handling. Please allow up to
45 days for our Team of Representatives to respond. For immediate
assistance, please contact Customer Relations at 214-792-4223 Monday
through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central Time. We certainly
appreciate your patience.
Sincerely,
Krisanne, Southwest Airlines

Telling me to give them a month and a half to look into this doesn’t
really inspire much confidence.

It’s unlikely that anyone has actually registered the address where the email actually was sent, but with Gmail anything is possible. We hope that Southwest lets Daniel know what actually happened sometime in the next six weeks.