3 Dec
2008

Some final thoughts on Southwest…

Southwest, as niece described them, are the “Greyhound of airlines”… they don’t assign seats, just the order in which you board and pick your seat in a bizarre free-for-all, where “priority boarders” aka, disabled persons or families with small children get to skip to almost the front of the line.

What they forget to advertise is that while you board, the flight attendents and any small children they can encourage mock you for taking so long to find a seat in the mess, on a full flight especially.

What they also forget to tell you is, oh say, any stops you’ll be making along the way if they don’t require you to change planes at that stop. Your ticket and travel itenerary won’t say a word about it. Sure we noticed the sign saying Dallas/Birmingham when we were herded on board the packed flight, but it would have been nice to have a heads up before hand…

Mostly because, what else they forget to tell you is that Southwest is perfectly happy to run late and wait for other passengers who are connecting and running late. Which means when you arrive at your final destination 40 minutes late even though the weather was fine and nobody had any warning you’d be making any stops… well, it was weird. All we could say is, “Oh we just decided to stop over in Dallas for a while, where we couldn’t leave the plane because Southwest doesn’t just scan your ticket, they take them away from you.”

But, on the bright side, the flight attendants seem to know when they have a plane full of annoyed people who are just sitting around waiting… not hard, considering all the overheard phone calls of people not expecting to be stopped in Dallas to their families trying to explain how late they’re going to be. They kept calling the people we had been waiting for — the people from the other late flight — the slowpokes, as in “We’ll get out of here as soon as these slowpokes find a seat in this big mostly empty plane.” They also did the most bizarre flight safety spiel I’d ever heard:

“We can never anticipate a loss of cabin pressure or more of us would have called in sick today, but in the event of one, try to stop screaming so you can place the oxygen mask over your face. For those of you traveling with small children, I’m sorry.”

“If the tab doesn’t inflate the vest, you can blow through the tube at your neck. If that doesn’t inflate the vest, and you can’t swim, we can’t either so don’t hang on to us.”

“For those of you who were paying attention, we thank you. For those who weren’t, oh well.”

Ugh… the up side, I guess, is they didn’t gripe one bit about our big-ass heavy bags, and would have even let us take a 2nd bag to check at no charge, and well, you can’t beat the ticket prices we paid. So I guess if you don’t mind being herded like cattle, battling for a seat near anybody you might be traveling with, and arriving at your destination via some magical schedule and route which they keep secret, then you can do worse than Southwest.

Of course, they don’t fly in or out of Atlanta, so you’d have to drive to Birmingham to fly them, but in our case, the gas money and the parking we spent was more than covered by the discount in cost.

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