“Southwest delivered on what they do best”
Flight from Tulsa to Columbus
- Round Trip
- Number of Stops:
- 1 stop in St. Louis, Missouri
- Date of Flight:
- March 2010
- Seat Class:
On my recent business flight from Tulsa to Columbus, Ohio I chose Southwest instead of American Airlines. This was a short-notice trip and there were no bargains to be found. Still, AA wanted about $75 more just for the ticket than SWA, before the luggage fees. So I booked SWA, and saved my company some money. I haven't flown SWA in a couple of years, but have always been a fan of their business model and customer service.
Although they only offered 2 or 3 flights per day between these two cities, they had something that worked well for my schedule. AA had many more choices, but a lot of those involved flying on a "puddle jumper" regional jet. I HATE those small planes, and will only fly on them if walking is the only other option.
So I bought my SWA tix and took advantage of their "Early-Bird" checkin upgrade, which I paid out of my own pocket. I was already very familiar with SWA's "line up by your pole" queuing style for boarding the plane, and thought this add-on would be worth it to ensure I get a window seat, and a preferred spot to store my carry-on overhead. It's nice to have this option to improve your chances of early boarding, but I still like SWA's practice of rewarding folks who check in and show up at the gate earlier with more seating choices. It's just like going to the movies; you put in more effort and show up when you should, and you get more choice.
Thanks to SeatGuru.com, I knew where my preferred seat choices were, and had no trouble sitting where I wanted, and storing my overhead bag exactly where I wanted it for an easy grab at departure. I thought we were going to have an issue before the plane took off; the 1st leg from TUL to STL was completely full, which we were warned of several times during boarding. Not an empty seat on the plane. I knew then that bag storage was going to be an issue before we could depart. Sure enough, some inconsiderate knucklehead came dragging in at the last minute, and of course, they had a carry-on that was slightly oversized. I think it was a garment bag, but I'm not sure now. In the time between I boarded and placed my smaller-than-regulation pilot case, and this disorganized traveler got on, almost all of the overhead storage space was taken. Right next to my bag, someone had stuffed a couple of jackets in the bin. This was the first spot the traveler I will refer to as "Dizzy" thought their big bag might fit into. The flight attendant was trying to hurry this along, because we were rapidly approaching our departure time. The attendant sees this hole and thinks they might be able to rearrange a few things and make it work. My bag is stowed on my row, across the aisle from my window seat, so I have a good view of what's about to happen. The attendant starts to identify bag owners before she starts shuffling and wants to move my bag 2 rows back to make a hole for Dizzy. I politely point out to the attendant that I paid for the Early-Bird boarding to get a preferred seat and a convenient spot for my carry-on, as advertised on their website. She thanked me for bringing that to her attention, and then turned to Dizzy and told them their bag would have to be checked, and to please find a seat. Dizzy was grumbling about something, but I heard the attendant remind them that they could check the bag AT NO COST, or leave it behind altogether. I was really glad the seat next to me was already taken. I heard several chuckles around me after Dizzy slogged their way toward the back of the plane.
Dizzy's bag was the only instance of note during my round trip flights. Southwest did what they do best; the flights were all on time, and no bags were lost. I do have one minor grumble about the airplaines, but it's my problem and not SWA's. I'm overweight. Not so much that I spill into my neighbor's seat, but just enough that I sometimes need a seatbelt extender and sometimes I don't. During this trip, I flew on 4 different airplanes; 2 going up, and 2 coming home. On 2 of the planes, I was able to fasten my seatbelt. On the other 2, I needed an extender. Since SWA flies only the 737 for their entire fleet, it would be nice if the seatbelts were a litte more consistent. I encountered 3 different lengths on 4 airplanes. I don't have any real complaints if this is all I have to gripe about, but it would be nice to know what to expect. Again, I take ownership of this issue, so it's not something I would probably ever ask SWA about.
In summary, thanks to Southwest Airlines for delivering what I expected and paid for. Job well done.