I still remember what happened on the day that changed America forever, 9/11/01.
I took a trip down to Ft. Lauderdale from Tampa over the Labor Day weekend in 2001, flying back from FLL to TPA on Southwest. The weekend before 9/11/01, my sister and my nephew both took a trip to Ft. Lauderdale - ironically on Southwest as well!
Then came Tuesday, 9/11/01, which was like any other day. I was riding the bus to work as I was living in an apartment complex while I was getting my house ready to sell (it was my mother's, but I lost her in March 2000 and the house went to me; it was way too much maintenance for me to handle). Once I settled in to the office I went about my usual business of seeing to it that the filing was being done, among other things.
My co-worker came back from her break and told me the horrific news: A plane crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. I asked her, "are you serious?" I stepped aside to a conference room where there was a TV on and my fears were confirmed: Not one but two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, one on the north tower and another on the south tower. As I work in a 10-story municipal office building in St. Petersburg (and being surrounded by taller office buildings in the downtown St. Petersburg area), I was getting scared by the minute. Only after all US airspace was shut down to all commercial air traffic I started being relieved; I was concerned after what happened in New York, Washington and Shanksville PA - could it happen in Florida? That was in the back of my mind as the attack on America was taking place.
Right after I got home all the TV channels devoted coverage to what happened; you could not flip from channel to channel without watching what happened. What happened on 9/11/01 will remain etched in my mind as long as I live.
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To those who are saying that the $10 early bird check in is a fee, in reality it is not. It is an optional add-on that is the choice of the passenger when he or she books a flight on Southwest.
Let's look at it this way: When you book a flight on Southwest, you get a choice of fares depending on how soon you purchase and how much you want to spend. Of course you want to pay the smallest fare possible and you have a choice from the low "Wanna Get Away" fares to the higher unrestricted fares. If you take the higher unrestricted fares you have the option of upgrading to Business Select which puts you anywhere in A-1 to A-15 among other things.
It's like options that you get when you buy a new car: Hand crank windows or power windows? Radio or Radio/CD player? Hand seats or power seats? Automatic transmission or manual transmission? You start with a base price for a car and then add the options you want. It's the same thing with Southwest: You start with a fare you want to pay and add the options you want.
The key word I am emphasizing here is options. One can choose to pay the extra fee for the convenience. Now that's my opinion.
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I like how Southwest is changing for the better! No more flight attendants asking passengers to ring the call button in search for change ("if you have change for a $20 bill, please ring your call button").
Besides, if you happen to purchase a Business Select ticket (and I recently had the privilege to fly Business Select from TPA to FLL and back just recently) you get a drink coupon to use on the flight. Moreover, when you get a Rapid Rewards award you also get a book of drink coupons to use on the flight as well.
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It would be a great idea to have broadband Internet access aboard Southwest, especially when you are on a long haul flight such as Tampa to Los Angeles with a stop in Austin. Moreover, having broadband Internet access makes the difference for the business traveler on the go. However, as long as certain services are filtered (like filtering out inappropriate websites and blocking access to certain services like VOIP (due to the high bandwidth consumed)) broadband Internet access aboard Southwest can be accessed easily by everyone aboard.
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I think the new boarding procedure at Southwest is going to be a win-win situation for everyone. Not only you are assigned into a boarding group, you are assigned a place in line in that boarding group. That way, those who arrive at the airport early enough (and are in the A boarding group especially) can go ahead and enjoy the amenities an airport has to offer. That way, you don't have to worry about getting to your gate early and having to stake out your place in line - your place in line is already reserved for you.
As for preboarding policy, I agree Southwest made a change in the right direction. I believe preboarding should be restricted to those who are disabled (and, consequently, need the extra time going down the jetway to the plane) and unaccompanied children ages 5 through 11. We can't forget those who have to purchase a second seat for a valid reason as well (from what I understand those having to purchase a second seat can courtesy preboard per current Southwest policy and I am not sure if this policy will continue under the new preboard policies). All too often on my recent travels on Southwest (especially not too long ago when I recently took a trip to LAX for a few days) I have seen large groups of families in the preboard line. Why? If your family group includes a child 5 years of age or under your family group qualified for preboarding! In my opinion, these large family groups who preboard sometimes grab the good seats and those of us in general boarding, especially when you are one of the first few in Boarding group A like myself, I feel are denied the opportunity to grab a good seat. After all, traveling from TPA to FLL is just a short flight but when you are traveling from TPA to BWI or LAX and vice versa, that's a long haul and indeed finding a good seat on the plane is a must.
Personally, the last time I have ever used preboarding was with my mother back in 1998 when she took me out to SFO (San Francisco) as a graduation present for completing my second associates' degree. (However, we flew on another airline which I won't mention here). My mother was disabled and she could not walk a considerable distance nor stand for a long time. I had to assist my mother down the jetway and to our seats. Sadly, two years later in 2000 I lost my mother to a heart attack. This is a good example of how preboarding should be used for, whether it's Southwest or another airline.
It's been tested in San Diego and recently in San Antonio - let's give this new boarding policy and procedure a try. But I think in the end this will be a win-win situation for everyone!
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I think this is a splendid idea of not only assigning the boarding group, also assigning your place in line in that boarding group. However, if Southwest wants to implement this boarding procedure systemwide its computer systems need to be secure from these so-called "automated" web services that claim to promise you the coveted A boarding group. After all, being a loyal Southwest traveler myself I would not - repeat not - spend any of my hard earned money to pay one of these web services claiming to get you an A boarding group boarding pass when you can do this online at Southwest.com for free. Besides, I would save that money towards a rental car and/or a hotel room.
Additionally, if someone wanted a specific seat on the plane (such as a front bulkhead seat, for example) I would not mind paying Southwest for the privilege of doing so. This would be a lot better than purely assigning seats like the other airlines do.
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I agree, having a convenient place to run your laptop on electric power while you wait to board at the gate sure beats having to use your battery or connecting the power cord at some out of the way place.
Additionally, while on the general topic of laptop power I think Southwest should consider installing at-seat outlets so that one can run a laptop during a flight without depending on the battery. It would be beneficial especially on long haul flights (such as on a Tampa to Los Angeles flight with a stop in Nashville on the long segment from Nashville to Los Angeles, for example).
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Like everyone else says, "if it ain't broke don't fix it!"
I agree, open seating is what makes Southwest stand out from the rest. Being a faithful Southwest customer since 2000, I enjoy checking in 24 hours before departure and getting the coveted "A" Group boarding pass. If I get to the airport early (like I always do as Southwest recommends), I take my place in the "A" boarding group line and (hopefully) get a bulkhead seat right by the window. Besides, having a bulkhead seat gives me room to work on my laptop especially on the long haul flights like from TPA to BWI on several occasions and one year a flight from TPA to LAX. Besides, if a bulkhead seat isn't available and the flight is a through flight (meaning not a non-stop flight) I can change seats at the next city. That's what I call flexibility which you cannot find at other airlines.
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11 September 2001 is a date we will remember forever.
I remember a week ago over Labor Day weekend in 2001 I took a trip to Ft. Lauderdale from Tampa on Southwest. The weekend before 9/11 my sister took a trip to Ft. Lauderdale on Southwest too.
I was in my office doing filing and a few other clerical tasks when my co-worker came back from her break. My co-worker told me that one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York was hit; I said "are you serious?" as I stepped out of my office momentarily to go to one of the conference rooms where the TV was on. Once I looked at the images of the twin towers my jaw dropped and I got scared thinking what's next.
I stayed at work all day until it was time to go home. Once I got home I was constantly glued to the TV practically all evening long.
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After I got done reading this post it has truly led me to believe that Southwest is not just an airline - it is a people company that cares about its customers and its employees.
I had a recent positive experience where a Southwest gate agent at BWI really went above and beyond. On Tuesday, 5 September 2006 as I was getting ready to take my place in the A boarding group at BWI's Gate B11 for the return flight home to Tampa on Flight 256, I checked to make sure that I have my laptop carrying case as well as my power adapter with me as I went to the newsstand earlier to get something to read to pass the time away. I was looking for my power adapter and I could not find it!
At that point I got very scared that I left my power adapter in the newsstand and that I would have to lose my place in the A boarding group line to go find it. A Southwest gate agent who was checking in passengers at the gate for an Orlando bound flight that departed from Gate B11 earlier immediately recognized my plight when I thought I lost my power adapter for my laptop - well, it turned out that I had my power adapter on me only it was hidden along with the magazines that I bought at the newsstand earlier. Finding my laptop's power adapter plus a caring Southwest gate agent who immediately recognized my plight really saved the day and when boarding time came for Flight 256 I was on my way home.
After all even laptop computer accessories come with a high price tag, especially when you have to replace it. I carry my power adapter with me along with my laptop so that if I can find an electrical outlet nearby I can use it rather than depend on my laptop's battery (save the battery for working on my laptop while in flight).
This positive experience shows how a caring company goes out of its way to achieve - or I would rather say exceed - positive customer service that one cannot find at the other airlines. Since I started flying on Southwest in 2000 and becoming a Rapid Rewards member I have never flown on any other airline since then, as flying on Southwest is always a positive experience from the time you check in to the time you get to where you want to go and retrieve your baggage.
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First of all I want to say that Southwest is the best airline! I have flown in the past but my first time flying Southwest was over Labor Day weekend 2000 when I took a flight from FLL to TPA. From the moment I walked up to the gate podium and received my "A" Boarding Card (this was back in the days when the plastic boarding cards were being used) all the way to when I exited the plane at TPA everyone from the gate agents to the flight attendants were extremely wonderful!
Since my flight on Southwest in 2000 I became a faithful Southwest customer and I have never flew any airline other than Southwest. A year later I proudly became a Rapid Rewards member and after so many small trips between TPA and FLL I was able to take longer trips to places such as LAX and BWI. Every time I get on board it's the same legendary customer service that makes Southwest great just like I experienced on my first Southwest flight in 2000.
I am not sure if this has been answered before but are there people 40 and up that work for Southwest? I have 11 more years to go before I retire and my goal is to keep working even after I retire and I thought working for Southwest would be a great place to start a second career.
Again Southwest is the best airline - keep up the great work!
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