J writes last night (12/7/10) at 7:05 p.m.
The irony of airplane travel is that it is an amazing feat of technical genius, but most of those who fly agree it sucks.
Less than 100 years ago, if you wanted to go from Philadelphia to California you might get there before you died of old age. Kind of gives a whole new perspective to going to visit grandma.
“Alright kids, let’s rustle it up and go visit grandma.”
“But, Dad, she’s 15.”
“Yeah, but I’m pretty sure she’ll be a grandmother by the time we get there.”
Now, with the time zones, you can leave Philadelphia at 8:00 a.m. and be in San Diego before lunch, yet all of us will universally agree that the experience sucks.
We all cheered when that guy from Jet Blue jumped out the emergency chute because while we may disagree on tax policy, welfare reform, abortion, school prayer, whatever, we all felt a certain kinship with a man who had just had it with the whole flying experience.
I fly about 15 times a year and I have for years. Yet until today, I had never flown Southwest. I was always a little skeptical. I mean, all other things being equal, when you pay less for something the quality is less. I may save money by shopping at Wal Mart, but I am under no illusions that I’m getting high quality anything by shopping there.
But Southwest was my option, and so, as they say, “DING” I was now free to move about the country.
Southwest was so pleasant it was almost surreal. When I checked it at 4:45 in the morning the ticket clerks were smiling and it didn’t end there.
Much has been made of Southwest’s cattle call no assigned seat system, and I was expecting the worst. But it was surprisingly orderly, and the Southwest employees actually made it fun, if only because their pleasant demeanors seemed that much more against the surly dispositions of the TSA workers who were waiting to feel me up.
Actually the cattle call where you stand by a pole made about as much sense as the systems on other airlines. I never understood why everyone stands in line for the privilege of sitting in an assigned seat for an extra 20 minutes. But we do. And we complain about it.
The airline was equally pleasant. The flight attendants (who were named, I am not making this up, Vicki and Vic) offered to hold my coffee while I sat down, they held the door open when I went to the bathroom (OK, that one was a little creepy) and Vicky engaged me in conversation that didn’t seem forced and even offered to snuggle with me when I complained I was cold (OK, that one creeped me out too, but I almost took her up on it because I was disappointed that none of the TSA agents wanted to grope me).
So Southwest has actually found a way to do things differently.
Now who wants pie?