This past weekend I had the privilege of flying Southwest Airlines (SWA) from Tucson to San Diego. It was the first time I’ve boarded one of the Luv Jets since I was slinging peanuts in the khaki pants and polo shirt uniform myself a few years back. I checked my bag at the ticket counter kiosk, managed to sail through security without any stories to tell, but when I got to my gate I was surprised to find the whole SWA boarding/cattle call process has been organized numerically. For those of you who don’t fly SWA there are no seat assignments, only open seating.
I was fortunate to be in the awesome “A” boarding group (out of A, B, C), but I was the last number of the group (60). It wasn’t by accident that I got “A” either. I checked-in online that morning to be sure to score the “A” boarding group for the sake of getting my super-desired window seat, preferably emergency exit row.
As the gate agent started to line up the “A” group I tried to figure out my place in line. I felt like the newbie and people probably thought by the dumb look on my face it was my first flight ever.
My conversation with the other passengers as I tried to figure out my place in line went like this:
Me: “Hi, are you 59?”
Gentleman passenger: “No, I’m actually older than that.”
Lady passenger: “I’m 55.”
Me: “I’m 60.”
Gentleman passenger (looking me up and down): “I have to say you look greeeeat!”
Eventually I settled into my “spot” in line and my sense of excitement grew. I love to fly and since I was a child I loved watching out the window as the plane left the ground.
However, the “A” group did not stand for “awesomeness” that night. It stood for “Aren’t you lucky you’re even getting a seat?”
The flight had originated in Baltimore, stopped in Albuquerque, then flew to Tucson (then it went on to Oakland and Portland) and every window seat and almost every aisle seat was taken by the time I boarded.
I grabbed the first aisle seat I came to and settled in with my iPod and Kt Tunstall (on my iPod – not next to me).
The flight was smooth, the flight attendants were friendly, the peanuts were honey roasted, and the guy on the window didn’t mind me sitting on his lap one bit. (Just kidding – I know the FAA regulations.)
All in all, I’d give the Southwest boarding process an A and the actual flight an A+. After all, it really is about the Luv — and getting there safely.