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.
Cabin mockup of the 737 MAX 8 with the new Meridian seats – Image: Southwest Airlines
I recently attended Southwest’s #SWAmediaDay and the unveiling of their new Houston Hobby international terminal. As an unabashed Southwest fan, and card-carrying A-Lister (Southwest’s version of elite frequent flyer), it was an excellent opportunity to get up-to-date on what’s going on behind the scenes at Southwest. But the exhibit which stole the show for me? Finally, a pair of the mysterious new blue Meridian seats for my eyes (and derrià¨re) to literally size up.
Over the past few years I’ve noticed an interesting trend: Airlines release new slimline seats, talking them up to make them seem as if they are greatest innovation to passenger experience since the advent of the jet engine. Immediately following, passengers (and media) quickly cry afoul, often before trying the seats out. Because, all change is bad, right? Who moved my cheese?! If we were to try to find middle ground between these two extremes we might arrive at an analogy comparing slimlines to the Rolls-Royce RB211. A jet engine for sure, but by all accounts an expensive flop which had a part in destroying Rolls Royce, crippling Lockheed, and being one of just a few factors which killed the L-1011 TriStar.
But, I digress… We are talking about something as benign as seats after all, right?