Two different airlines, two different flights leaving the same airport early on a Sunday morning. While they both happened early on a Sunday morning, the Sundays were separated by just over two years. I showed up for both in plenty of time for my flight, and in both cases, long lines at the check-in counters prevented me from making either flight.
On being informed I missed my flight:
Spirit: Made it clear that missing the flight was my fault, even though my flight wouldn’t take off for another 45 minutes. Spirit personnel first told me they gave away my seat to someone else, then decided that, instead of that story, they would go with me being too late to make my flight, which was, again, 45 minutes from taking off. I was refused a boarding pass and the opportunity to get to the gate.
Southwest: Apologized for the long line, warned me that I would probably miss my flight, but I was given a boarding pass, pointed toward security and wished the very best luck.
On resolving my travel needs:
Spirit: Told me (on Sunday morning) they could get me to my destination as soon as Wednesday!
Southwest: After missing my flight, the friendly counter crew pointed me to another flight that would be talking off 30 minutes after the flight I missed.
On the final outcome of my travels:
Spirit: I completely missed an important business meeting, I was told it was my fault I missed it, and my credit card company had to step in to get them to refund the cost of the flight I was never allowed to take.
Southwest: I made it to my destination just 30 minutes later than originally planned, and my choosing Southwest was repeatedly thanked.