Stranded In The Southland

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Why Southwest Will Beat Out The Regular Airlines

I'm on the east coast this week; more about that in a future entry. On the way out, I wound up taking Northwest instead of my usual Southwest. I was disappointed.

When I showed up at the terminal, I spent half an hour waiting in line, to get to one of three self-checkin terminals. There were no gate agents. Southwest has fast, efficient gate agents. The line moves much more quickly.

I then wound up in a 100-yard long, slow-moving security line. Now, this wasn't really the airline's fault, but if they hadn't slowed me up in line, this wouldn't nearly have been so bad. I wonder why I've never had a problem like this in the adjacent terminal housing Southwest. [Okay, I'm not being fair here. Tough.]

The personnel were all perfectly polite on Northwest, but no friendlier or more competent than Southwest. They were dressed slightly better, but if I want to pay extra to see women in high heels, there are a number of venues in the Southland that cater to that desire. I don't need to get on a plane.

I wound up with a crappy seat (last minute booking), where on Southwest I usually came out okay as long as I arrived at a reasonable time. I could see the flight attendant fawning over the first-class passengers as I got on. On the other hand, I was offered an opportunity to buy a snack pack for $3. To be fair, my seatmate bought one, and it looked like a good deal. It is still silly and demeaning, for no real cost savings for the airline.

[Oh, yeah, I could afford to scoff at the $3 snack pack 'cause my baby got up at 5AM to make me a couple delicious sandwiches to take with me.]

I also appreciate the non-nonsense approach that Southwest takes to fares. There are three or four fares, and when one fills, you wind up paying the next highest level. If you buy a week in advance, you can often get a cheap Internet fare. There's none of this, "How badly do you want to get there?" baloney that goes on with the convoluted rate structure of regular airlines.

I just see no good reason to travel via the conventional airlines -- I fail to see what they can offer me!