Southwest Jets Grounded

Today there was news that Southwest Airlines had been operating several planes that hadn’t passed inspection, and are now grounded. This news wasn’t that much of a shock to me, because I had an interesting experience on my last trip to Las Vegas.

So here is my story on trying to get home from Vegas. Everyone boarded the plane, and we left the gates, ready to depart. But then a passenger noticed that there was a bolt loose on one of the wings! Eventually he got the attention of the pilot, who then confirmed the issue. How the heck can someone visually miss a bolt loose on the wing?! Did anyone even inspect the plane before it left the gates?

The pilot told us that there is a chance it could be repaired, so the plane moved back towards the gates, and we sat there for 30 minutes or so while the maintenance crew inspected the plane. Eventually they determined that the bolt wasn’t something they could easily just put back in, so we had to all exit the plane and find a new plane. Another hour later, we finally got a new plane and headed home safely.

I wonder if that bolt was loose for some time or it just happened recently. I wonder if there are any other stories like mine out there. I hope the FAA throws down the hammer to them. Or will it take a major incident before they start paying attention? Crazy huh?