But it meant flying to Phoenix. For me that has always meant Southwest Airlines. At one time I loved Southwest. Just like the girls I loved in college: easy and cheap. But "college" reunions usually result in disappointment. Sorry to say that was the case last week.
Southwest features open seating. It used to be you’d just line up and it was first-come, first serve. Then you had to check in online starting 24 hours before your flight. You were then assigned a place in line. A 1-60, B 1-60, C 1-worst seat in plane. Usually if you checked in sometime during the first three or four hours you made it to the A group. Advantages of the A group: Room in the overhead compartments for your bags, window or aisle seat, more time to read their in-flight magazine.
My flight was Thursday at 8:15 AM. At 8:17 I checked in. My number: B 24. What the fuck? How could 83 other people check in in 90 seconds? This wasn’t like tickets for Streisand.
So I called Southwest. Well, it seems that now if you want a high number it costs extra – as much $40. So all those low fares they advertise? That’s if you want to sit in the last row wedged in between the fat guy and screaming baby.
You are now free to pay more.
However, B-groupers do get their revenge. Let's say you’re an A. You’re on the aisle. There’s an empty seat next to you. You get to watch sixty people size you up and decide they’d rather sit next to someone else. Then you glance back down the aisle and the scary dragon tattoo girl and slob eating a chilidog have their middle seats already filled. Not only did it cost you $40 for the upgrade but you now need six more months of therapy.
Or, you pay the extra $40 and Mr. Chilidog is in the B group and does decide to sit next to you. And since there’s no more room in the overhead bins he has to wedge his bag and computer and second chilidog under his seat (which spills into your seat). You’re sitting in a fetal position with mustard dripping onto your pants. Yeah, there’s money well spent.
Between the TSA inspections, X-rays, hidden fees, reduction in service and amenities, delays, and lost luggage flying anywhere is now an ordeal. And it used to be such fun. Oh well – lost love. Who says you can’t go back again? Probably a Southwest ticket agent.