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English: View of the front of Southwest Airlin...

View of the front of Southwest Airlines Flight 1248. This aircraft, N471WN, crashed into the perimeter fence of Chicago Midway International Airport on December 8, 2005. Photo taken and used with permission by: Gabriel Widyna This photo can be found at: http://www.airliners.net/open.file/0975371/M/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are a few facts that we all accept about flying these days, namely:

  • Flights will be crowded and you will be crammed into a space that is more suited to a small adolescent than a full-grown adult. (unless of course you pony up the dough to fly first class)
  • You will pay an arm and a leg for your flights. Cheap airfares may exist, but rarely are they for cities on your itinerary, and they usually involve words like “redeye.”
  • The stuff they call “food” isn’t.
  • Airports and airport security are a pain in the ass.
  • People are stupid in airports, no matter how intelligent they might be elsewhere.

If you opt to save a little money (OK, make that, “if you opt to spend 50% less on your tickets by flying something like Southwest…) there are certain other truths you accept:

  • You can get a decent place in their weird-ass boarding system by buying “business class” seating – which by the way, are the same crowded seats, you just get a better place in line. Which elimates the savings. Fail.
  • You can get a semi-decent place in their weird-ass boarding system by paying $10 per person, each way, to have auto-check-in. Cool idea. In theory.
  • You will be served some nasty things masquerading as snacks.
  • You will be served a small plastic cup, 3/4 full of your selected beverage and you will be hard pressed to get a refill.
  • You will be crammed in even more tightly than usual and the entire process at Southwest will make you feel like cattle.

Oh, and about that $10 thing? It’s a nice idea. So tell me why we were still at the very end of the “A” section (ie: 50 people) on one flight?

And another thing – tell me why when we had numbers in the low A-20s (ie: just behind the business class folks) we were still unable to get seats in front of the wings?

Oh! I know why! Because there were several people already on the plane from the previous flight – who were allowed to change their seats before we boarded. So… even had we paid for the business class tickets, there were still nearly two dozen people ahead of us on the plane.
And so, now I sit here contemplating… Is it truly worth the $10 per person to get what amounts to semi-decent places in line? Is the savings of flying Southwest worth the hassle and frustrations of flying Southwest? And would writing a letter to them actually accomplish anything? Or should I just bite the bullet next time and pay up to 50% more for tickets on an airline that doesn’t treat their passengers as baggage.