Posts Tagged ‘no frills’

Remember when Southwest was the ‘no frills’ airline?

March 16, 2012

Just back from vacation … nice trip if you ignore the travel to and from Punta Cana.

Friends know that I’ve been a SWA loyalist for years.  I liked their cut-rate prices, was willing to forego some frills, and perversely enjoyed the fight to get a pass to board in the prized “Group A” and rush to get a prime seat.

My vacation flights were on United.  Ouch.

Base ticket price was ok … but, then the add-ons.

$25 for the 1st bag … $35 for the 2nd … 50 pound limit — strictly enforced.  C’mon, man.

Good news: United and Continental were converting to their new combined computer systems the morning I was flying … the agents weren’t able to collect the baggage fee because of a systems glitch.  Bank error, my favor

Then, the seat pricing scam.

Of course, I booked at the lowest available fare … with seats in the back.

Going — no problem. Got 2 pre-assigned seats close to the lavs in the back.

Got a couple of emails inviting me to shell out $59.99 each for seats closer to the pilot.  No thanks.

Returning — not so easy.

Initially told: no seats available at this time.  See agent when checking in for the return flight.  Huh?

Kept checking for seat availability.  Kept getting told: None, except for the $59.99 upgrades.  Hmmm.

During online check-in, a miracle.  UAL found 2 seats for us and took the liberty of pre-assigning them.

You guessed it … a couple of $59.99 special upgrades.

May we have you credit card number?  NO !!!

OK, Mr. Cheapskate … here are 2 seats back by the lavs.  Enjoy your trip.

Reminded me of an old restaurant tactic.  Servers were getting spiffed for wine sales.  So, they’d ask “would you like wine with your meal?”.  If the answer was “no”, they’d come back in a few minutes and query: “Excuse me, did you say red or white wine?”.  If the answer was “none”, they’d bring a glass of wine anyway to see if the customer had the nads to send it back.  Folklore had it that wine sales soared.

Hoped my bag would fly free again, but no luck. Got charged $29 (note- not $25) and had to carry on stuff to stay under the weight limit.  Bummer.

In flight, noticed there weren’t many takers for the relatively high priced (and presumed low quality) airplane food.

But, did see a dude walk-in with an extra large pizza.  Not the mini Papa John’s you get at the Verizon Center …. a full 16 inchers.  Thought the guy was going to get mugged.

What an experience.

As a friend observed: Southwest is suddenly the frills airline …

Go figure.

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