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Southwest to Dayton

July 23, 2009
by

Last week I went to Dayton. I flew Southwest to Columbus and made the one hour drive to Dayton. When I’m using my money, I won’t fly Southwest. I would rather cancel my vacation than fly the Walmart of the skies. When it’s the company’s money, however, I feel obligated to find the best deal.

On three of the four legs of my round trip, I sat in a middle seat. The middle seat is the worst, as I’m sure you know. My Omaha to St. Louis flight was 30 minutes late, which made me the penultimate person to board the St. Louis to Columbus flight. Even if I would have had a good boarding position, I was screwed by the delay. Not being a frequent Southwest traveler, I’m not intimate with the dynamics of seat selection. I assumed that I would get the second worst seat and that seat would be in the middle and near the back of the plane and in between those two fat twins that used to ride motor cycles. Instead, I got row 10 (middle of course) between two slim, female, senior citizens. Not as bad as I thought, but still the middle seat, so it sucked.

On the Midway to Omaha leg, I had more choice of seats (my boarding pass said C3) and I chose a middle seat between a big fat guy and a handicapped woman. I saw the woman in the concourse and noted that she had legs the size of green beans. When I saw her in the plane I thought, Here’s someone who won’t be fighting me for leg room. In a split second, I weighed that benefit against having a fat guy on my left and chose that seat. When someone like me calls someone else fat, I know of what I speak. In the end, it was a terrible choice, although both the disabled woman and the fat guy were quite pleasant.

For me, optimal seat selection goes aisle, window, middle. There may be people who like window, aisle, middle, but those are the only two choices. This means that Southwest has and extremely inefficient boarding process. If there are 50 middle seats, I will guess that no less than 45 of those will be occupied by someone who boarded later than the person occupying the aisle. In my case, fat guy had to get out of his seat while I squeezed into the middle. Had I boarded before fat guy, me taking a seat would have gone from a 15 second affair to a 3 second affair. Just assign f*cking seats already!

Fat Twins Motorcycle

If you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of Southwest. When I fly, I like to put the earbuds in and work the crossword puzzle. There was such a puzzle in Spirit magazine and I set about solving it. It kicked my ass, to say the least. There was a clue “___ the crack of dawn” for a three letter space. This crossword writer must be some kind of obscure genius, because the only answer I can think of is “up at” and that has four letters. After toiling for a while, I checked the answer page. The three spaces were filled thusly: UP – A – T. That’s right, they put two letters in one space. You’ve got to be kidding me. Who writes these puzzles, the same guy that designed the boarding process?

Here’s my idea for airline pricing and boarding. Everyone pays $100 for a seat on the flight. All you get is a seat, not a particular seat. Then you bid on a particular seat number, or maybe a “class” of seats (rows 1-10 aisle, for instance). If you want to fly cheap, you get a crappy seat. If you have the means, you can sit where you want. I haven’t worked out the details of the auction, but it’s a start to stamping out the socialism that is Southwest. Capitalism rules!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2009 5:37 pm

    I have two comments – First, SW is okay, IF you get there early… Second, my company flies me first class – just something to think about. I mean – YOU’RE flying somewhere FOR THEM – why should YOU be uncomfortable???

  2. July 24, 2009 7:14 am

    So you’re saying I should have arrived in St. Louis sooner? Good idea. What was I thinking getting there at the same time as the plane I was in?

    First class seems wasteful. If it was double the cost of coach, that would be one thing. But the price is just way out of proportion to the added value, in my opinion. Typical middle class person’s opinion, I suppose.

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