My wife and I just returned from vacation. Though we love roadtrips, this time we flew Southwest Airlines from Missouri to Florida. And I’m glad we did. Winter Storm Gia would have hindered our drive to Florida and Winter Storm Jayden would have hindered our drive back to Missouri.
Though Southwest is not a “bargain” airline, I like the fact that the initial price is the final price, even if you need to make changes to your itinerary.
When I was younger and needed to book a flight, my decision on which airline to fly was based on two factors:
- Is the plane going where we want to go? and
- Is it the cheapest fare?
Then the airlines started adding fees to the initial cost when you arrived at the airport if you wanted special treatment. So what started out as the cheapest might end up costing more if you needed what the airlines decided were “frills”.
Like, say, for example you wanted to bring luggage.
The last time I bought cheap tickets there was a disclaimer that the tickets could not, under any conditions, be changed and I was a fool if I expected any money back if something unforeseen came up and I needed to change or cancel my plans. As it turned out, the tickets COULD be changed at no cost. Just not by me. When I went on-line to confirm the tickets the day before our flight, an extra city and 3 additional hours of travel time had been added to the itinerary I had locked in six months earlier.
Then I got “educated” at check-in about extra charges. That went something like this:
Check-in person: Good morning!
Me: (Stifling a yawn while putting two pieces of luggage on the metal table in front of me) Hello.
Check-in person (with an incredulous look on his face): You want to bring LUGGAGE?
Check-in person: That’s an extra $25 for the first bag and $40 for the second bag = EACH WAY.
Check-in person: Would you like to upgrade to first class for only $312 more each way?
Check-in person: Would you like a little extra leg room for only $29 each way?
Check-in person: Would you like to be able to wiggle your toes for only $5 more each way?
Me: I guess I’ll be ok for a few hours.
Check-in person: Would you like restroom access?
Me: Well, yeah.
Check-in person: Fluids only are $5. Solids are $12. For only $15 we are offering unlimited fluid and solid disposal, plus complimentary toilet paper. AND – we will waive the normal $2 environmental impact fee.
Me: OK, I’ll take two unlimited specials.
Chcck-in person: Would you like a sandwich for only $10?
Me: My wife and I will split one.
Check-in person: Condiments for only $3?
Me: Nah, my wife’s passed that stage.
Check-in person: Would you like priority seating on a life raft in the unlikely event of a water landing? Only $10 for one or $17.95 for two.
Me: I’ll take one. My wife can float on her back for hours.
(Note: This may not be word for word since my head was starting to spin from making this many decisions prior to 8 am.)
So it was that for only $50 more per person than the non-stop, all-inclusive flight from Southwest, my wife and I were on our way through “SECURITY”. There, because my wife’s titanium knees kept setting off the metal detector, she was escorted to a small, private room where a female TSA employee “patted her down”. From what my wife described, this required about the same level of intimacy it took me to the third night of our honeymoon to achieve.
But at least we were cleared to get on the plane!
Which went something like this:
Gate person: Thank you for flying with Untied Airlines. We’d like to begin the boarding process by seating our Executive Sky Alliance PLATINUM members. Please follow this red carpet please.
Ok. Now, would all Executive Sky Alliance Gold members please board.
And now, all Executive Sky Alliance Silver members.
And finally, (after a few more passenger-grades of increasingly less value), will all Executive Sky Alliance TARPAPER members please hustle onto the plane?
AND PLEASE . . . Be careful not to step on the red carpet!
Though I seriously considered upgrading our passenger status from TARPAPER to VINYL for our next vacation, I switched airlines instead. I have found that Southwest rarely starts out cheaper, but the price I book is normally the price I pay.
I also signed up for TSA Pre-Certification. Now, after undergoing an extensive background check and paying $85 for 5 years, my wife and I get to remain fully clothed while passing through airport security.
It’s a small price to pay.
Even though – at our age – one might think they’d be willing to pay US to keep our clothes on.