Friday, June 02, 2006

WEST BY SOUTHWEST

ADMISSION: TODAY I’M FLYING SOUTHWEST FOR THE FIRST TIME.

Most of my travel in the last few years has been through work, and the flights were all on the major airlines. Due to all of that travel, I had frequent flier miles built up, so when I traveled for vacations, I used up those miles on those major airlines.

Today, I’m flying for the first time on Southwest. I’m feeling extremely intimidated by this due to that quirky “first come, first served” seat assignment rule they have. I’ll admit it, I’ve been spoiled by the other airlines. You know, the ones that let you log onto their websites so you can pick your own seat. And wouldn’t you rather I do that than pick my seat in public? (rimshot).

Little by little, I’m finding out more about how this whole thing really works. It seems that if I REALLY believed it was “first come, first served” I’d be quite the fool. Conceivably, I could get to the airport before anyone else on my flight and end up with a seat in steerage, holding a live chicken on my lap. The secret all seems to be in those alphabetical boarding passes: A, B or C.

So, “First come” actually means “First to log onto your computer and check in online”, which you can start doing 24 hours before your flight. Those “A” boarding passes are so coveted that a website is now available to help you get them. For a $5.00 charge per passenger, you can have Boardfirst.com get you your golden ticket. If they fail to get an “A”, there is no charge and they supply the live chicken.

Being a Southwest novice, I was totally unaware of these intricacies. It was all explained to me ten hours before my flight at which time I rushed to my computer to get my boarding pass. I have a “B” boarding pass.

B

I know that’s not good, but is it at least OK, or am I kinda screwed, seatwise? I e-mailed my daughter and son-in-law to ask them since they’ve flown on Southwest before BUT NEGLECTED TO CLUE ME IN ON THE SECRET OF THE “A” TICKET.

Basically, they were not helpful. Jenni’s response was to “suck it up” as it is a fairly short flight (St. Louis to Kansas City) and if I get a middle seat, I can deal with it. I pointed out to her that I was more concerned about getting my carry-on luggage in an overhead compartment without any hassle. To save time, I don’t want to check it. But being short, I have a tendency to knock people on the noggin when I’m trying to get my luggage into the overhead compartment on crowded flights.

That’s when the short jokes started – lead off by Tim who is 6’4” or something like that. Now, is that nice? I’m flying up there to help them stain and varnish the wood in their new house and I get short jokes?!?!?

(Just kidding, kids. Sort of)

For my return flight, I’ve registered with Boardfirst.com and will hopefully get the coveted “A” boarding pass. But for my flight today, I’ll just have to “suck it up.”

I also heard that Southwest is going to start assigning seats. But that’s scheduled for the year 2007; not before my 6:30 pm flight this evening.

sigh

6 comments:

neophyte said...

I hope the trip goes well, Sly, despite only scoring a B ticket. If you want, you could take my emu instead of a chicken; it's a good emotional support animal.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Hey sly, it's a one hour flight.

Suck it up!

And we want to see crapcam pictures of you and the chicken.

Kafaleni said...

at least you didn't get a C ticket, Sly.. 10 hours could have been the difference between a B ticket, and being strapped to the wing while longingly looking through the window at the chickens in steerage

Higgy said...

Ah, a B ticket isn't that bad - there are usually still some aisle or window seats open. It's the C folks that I feel bad for - might as well call them "middle seat bulkhead" people!

Tramp said...

Remember the old airline Valu Jet? You would board and sit anywhere you wanted with no ticket. After you were airborne, they would come around and collect cash for the flight.

I always wondered what would happen if you didn't have the cash. Would they fling you out the door?

LabSpecimen said...

A little late now, but I would have suggested batting your beautiful eyes at a big, strong man and asking him to stow your carry-on for you.

Then, if he declined, or sighed while doing it, you could have kicked him.

What can I say? I'm a kicker!