Flying out of Tampa… a nice view in November!
For Thanksgiving I flew from Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) to Tampa (TPA) to visit my dad. Since he was letting me use some of his Southwest Airlines miles (thanks dad!) I ended up flying them to visit. Although I am a big fan of the company and people of Southwest, when it comes to flying them — they aren’t my first choice. The big reason is that there aren’t many places they fly to non-stop from Seattle (also no seat assignments, no power plugs, and no buy-on-board food). With my trip to Tampa I was lucky to only have only one stop – at Chicago’s Midway (MDW) – both times. I say lucky since I have had to do that trip multiples times with two stops, which is not fun at all.
File photo of the new interior – Photo: Southwest
Since this was a personal trip, I had no plan to do a story, but the last leg did me in. My final flight from MDW to SEA was on a Boeing 737-800. I was excited because this would be my first Southwest 737-800 flight — it also had the new Meridian seats from B/E Aerospace. However, I wasn’t quite sure if that was a bonus or a downfall. I have read (even here on AR) about the seats and have heard mostly bad things. But after four hours flying back home, I have come to a few conclusions.
An American Boeing 787-8 (N812AN) at LAX. Southwest does not have any 787s.
A few weeks ago, my esteemed colleague JL Johnson penned a piece extolling the virtues of his favorite carrier, Southwest Airlines. He laid out nine reasons why Southwest was tops in his mind, and quite honestly I didn’t disagree with any of the facts he laid out on why the airline is so immensely popular with so many people.
However, with all the positives Southwest has under its belt, I personally can’t remember the last time I stepped foot on a Southwest 737… at least seven-to-eight years, I think. So if Southwest isn’t so bad, and I think it’s a perfectly fine airline, why have I clocked about 800,000 miles without a single Southwest flight?
First, let’s get one thing clear: This piece isn’t meant to be a hostile response to JL or his story, or even as a “Southwest is bad” take-down rant. Like I said, he has valid points, and Southwest is a fine airline, one that I even recommend others to fly. The goal of this piece is to give those who are wondering some insight into why someone might choose not to fly Southwest.
Southwest’s Heart One – Photo: Stephen M. Keller for Southwest Airlines
I frequently find myself explaining why Southwest is my favorite airline for personal and business travel. I get this question so often that last year I decided to create a list in my favorite note-taking app to help organize my thoughts. As a self-anointed brand ambassador, frequent flyer, and card-carrying A-Lister, I take this opportunity to educate curious travelers (and future Southwest loyalists) very seriously. Last week, I again had this question pop up and, upon opening my note, I realized I had more than enough content for a full-length AirlineReporter piece. So, without further ado, here are my top nine reasons why Southwest is the best domestic airline.
Mockup of how Southwest’s new seats will appear on the 737 MAX 8 aircraft – Image: Southwest Airlines
I recently flew Southwest Airlines for the first time in a while. I love the airline, I love what they have done for domestic air travel in the US, and I love so many of the people who work there. But I do also LUV having a seat assignment — which you cannot get with Southwest. I feel there is much added stress having to check-in early, making sure you are in the right place in line at the gate, and the worst of all: not knowing where you will sit. However, I have spoken to so many huge fans of Southwest, that actually like the process (mainly my dad and JL).
If you have flown Southwest Airlines before, you probably know the drill. When you check in, beginning 24-hours before the flight, you will be given a letter (A, B, or C) followed by a number between 1 and 60. A1 boards first, followed by the rest of the A group in numerical order. The process is repeated for the B and C groups. While the first fifteen seats are generally reserved for premium fare classes, frequent fliers, and paid upgrades, most positions are assigned in order of check-in time. End up in the C group, you will likely get a center seat (easy to remember – C for Center).