January 11th, 2012
So I flew Southwest yesterday for the first time since my 2006 mileage-run extravaganza. Yes, there was some irony at the time taking an airline that doesn’t award real flight miles on the way to a mileage run, but when you need a positioning flight for cheap you do what you gotta’ do!
Continental pricing on nonstop flights from Cleveland is just insane these days, it’s almost like they are trying to close the hub by driving people to other airlines and/or airports. A nonstop round-trip flight on the sub-700 miles flight to Kansas City on Continental is now $400 (Typical pricing used to be under $250) and Southwest was just $135 all-in. That’s just 7,000 Southwest points required for the round-trip flight to be free.
I’ll pay a nice premium for Continental, but not that nice!
We booked a direct flight on Southwest that claimed there would be “no plane change.” Sounded pretty good on paper at least. When you book direct flights, Southwest.com makes it as hard as possible to find out where you’re connecting. You need to manually search for all possible nonstop destinations (Baltimore, Chicago, Nashville, etc) to figure it out.
I’m spoiled with elite status whenever I travel. When I booked the Southwest flight I worked some magic to get matched to their “A-List” status and hoped that would help out.
Some thoughts on the experience:
-The checkin agent wanted to see a birth certificate for my son who turned 6 months old…first time that happened!
-A-List status did nothing for me. There were 50 people on the flight and we boarded close to last. It doesn’t have any value besides for that.
-Do people really like the cattle call boarding process with no assigned seats? I for one can’t stand it. Reminds me of this beauty of an ad:
-It’s strange seeing a one-cabin plane on the 737. I’ll definitely miss Airtran and their easy free upgrades for elites once Southwest swallows them up.
-Honey Roasted peanuts (Star K-parve) made just a few miles from my house. Like!
Asked for more and was given a handful of ‘em.
-Flight attendants are definitely jollier/friendlier than on the major carriers.
-Wi-fi was $5. Workarounds exist…
-Got 4 free premium drink coupons in the mail for being a Southwest credit card holder.
-Before deplaning they asked that all customers continuing onto Kansas City remain on the plane until everyone else deboards and then we would be counted and allowed to change seats and stretch while remaining on the plane. After waiting for everyone to get off the plane they then announced that there would be a plane change after all and that we had to hustle from B19 to the A4a satellite gate at the other end of the airport. Then they had to get us our stroller that was gate-checked through to Kansas City. The people outside the gate were going to West Palm Beach, so what was the deal? Why did they make us stay on the plane and then have to run to the next gate? It definitely wasn’t a last-minute change.
After running to our new gate in the rush of boarding the plane my wife left her new Galaxy Nexus phone in the cupholder of the stroller that was being gate-checked under the plane. Somehow, someway, impossibly, and maybe even miraculously, the phone was still in the cupholder when they brought the stroller back up after the flight to Kansas City. Go figure!
-No honey-roasted peanuts on the new plane, someone had an allergy. No wifi either on the 2nd flight.
-The bulkhead has tons of extra room on the floor, but there were no tray tables or seatback pocket space at all and of course all of your bags have to be in the overhead bins during takeoff and landing. Still not sure if it’s worth the tradeoff or not.
So what’s your take on Southwest? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em?