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A+: for short-haul, small-city trippers

  • Jan 10, 2000
  • by
Pros: Excellent staff, usually low-stress travel, best frequent flyer programme going

Cons: Need a small aeroport and small city to make it work, I think

Hideously coloured planes, no assigned seating, chintzy food service if any -- what's to like?

Plenty, if your trip is from one small airport to another, and you're not flying during a peak travel period. There's the obvious, frequently-referred-to bonus of "cheap." Indeed. The no-assigned-seating business takes a bit of getting used to, but seems almost advantageous now: I write having just returned from having six seats facing each other to myself and one other person. You'd never end up with dream seats like that on other airlines' coach classes, and even the lousy seats are still marginally larger (I think) than American Airline's sardine section, and comparable to every other North American airline I've flown.

The -- bar none -- strangest part of Southwest for the new Southwestern is the staff. They have stewardesses who are not at all snotty to women while falling all over the male passengers, a major problem -- curiously one that's even worse in business class -- that actually prompted me to write American to complain. That aside, the odds are good you'll end up with a crew who seemed to've picked a job with Southwest over writing comedy. It may not work for all tastes; you could see the cringe of some of the more Los Angeles types at the "For those of you with cell phones -- we're all real impressed, but you'll have to turn them off; they interfere with the captain's pacemaker" announcement -- but I like.

An older couple with a large pile of oranges (no, I don't know why) somehow got in a bit of a back-and-forth with a steward about making good screwdrivers. He volunteered that he took his vodka straight, adding "but then, I'm a very troubled man." This sort of thing should rattle you, but it's taken a lot of the stress and irritation out of flying for me. Plus, what's not to like about flight attendants who will tsk-tsk and kindly humiliate passengers who try to muck the whole arrangement up by dashing for the door before the plane even hits the gate?

All my Southwest flights have been smooth, both logistically and physically -- some of the little airports are not easy to land at, but I've yet to see my purse go flying out from under the seat. The most recent flight I took was, amazingly, re-scheduled without difficulty, and resulted in a small refund because my new flight date was cheaper than the original. Ay yi yi! This more than makes up for the ultra-chintzy "food" service, though do note that they will really heap you with peanuts and soda pop if you ask.

There is a major caveat here, which is that I've so far only used Southwest for, well, Southwest-appropriate flights: short-haul from one small place to another. The queues for Southwest seats at LAX are horrifying, but flying out of Burbank, you can show up reasonably late, and board/'de-plane' from both the front and rear doors (usually). I have yet to get a crummy seating arrangement, and what would've been a guaranteed disaster with any other airline -- arriving fifteen minutes before take-off with way too much check-in and carry-on luggage -- ended up being smooth; I didn't even get a dirty look or a disparaging comment from the staff. This is even more unusual when you remember that Southwest's 'on-time' record is excellent. Again, though, this was at a very small airport.

Some longer trips are in the planning (and Southwest seems to be expanding to the point where they'll be wanting a name change...), so I'll add another review when I see how much "We have an important message for passenger Roger Fortsakis...Roger, the Hyatt called; you forgot your Spider-man jammies, but they'll be sending them to your home for you" commentary I can take on a long-haul flight. Note that while the selection is not great, beer is only $2, so anything may be tolerable with enough leg room.


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K. Mennie ()
Ranked #679
Member Since: Oct 27, 2010
Last Login: Nov 23, 2010 02:45 PM UTC
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Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSELUV) is an American low-cost airline. Southwest is the largest airline in the world by number of passengers carried per year (as of 2007).[1] Southwest, the 6th largest U.S. airline by revenue,[2] maintains the third-largest passenger fleet of aircraftamong all of the world's commercial airlines. As of May 3, 2009, Southwest operates approximately 3,500 flights daily. Southwest is headquartered at 2702 Love Field Drive in the Love Field area of Dallas, Texas, adjacent to Love Field airport.[3]

Southwest Airlines has carried more customers than any other U.S. airline since August 2006 for combined domestic and international passengers according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.[4] Southwest Airlines is one of the world’s most profitable airlines, posting a profit for the 36th consecutive year in January 2009.[5] However, Southwest has posted individual quarterly losses, despite the year-end revenue posting profits.

Southwest's successful business model involves flying multiple short, quick trips into the secondary (more efficient and less costly) airports of major markets, and using only one aircraft type, the Boeing 737.

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