The Last Straw

November 17, 2010

in Airport Stories

I believe I had the honor of witnessing THE LAST STRAW for Southwest Airlines’ ORIGINAL queuing process.

Background: for those that never flew SWA, or maybe just fly Gulfstreams, SWA was unique in that they did open seating; line up and enter.  The problem was that lines would be silly long interfering with the hallways, etc.  A change was inevitable.

The Deltas of the world, with their noses in the air, all felt this nuisance SWA airline would just go away eventually.

Fictitious CUSTOMER: “Wait, let me get this straight: I don’t HAVE TO GO through Atlanta to get to my city?”

DELTA: “No, we are not saying that; who told you that?”

CUSTOMER: “That crazy airline over there… I hear they also sing on the intercoms and wear shorts, too.”

DELTA: “Well, er, we go through Atlanta as this helps keep costs down… gots to keep the shareholders happy… we are large, we make the rules here.”

Sorry, back on track… I kinda lost myself there for a second.

Back in the day, if one was smart, they found they would sit near the SWA gate door and hold out as LONG AS POSSIBLE before they stood up and entered the queue, or mostly START THE QUEUE.  But, there was always some person (e.g., like “commenter JODY,” no offense) that would break protocol and stand like 1.5 hours before the flight… everyone around would quietly say under their breath, “Damn!”  At this point, you HAD to stand up to get in the first 30 (for that prized aisle or window seat).

Presently, SWA tweaked their policy to a nice process but had switched it a few times – from A-B-C group plastic cards to splitting up the lines based on those letters.

It was in the Big Easy, NOLA, the great New Orrrrr-leee-ans.  I believe it was a rainy day, ok, who cares about that.  Date: early 2000s, maybe late 1990s. The airport, for those that have not been there (e.g., the “other Paul” – who clearly would not voluntarily go to this fun town–JK), is not a modern place.  In a way, I love the old SKOOL (er, school) airports (e.g. Detroit’s old wings) as the old flight status boards are cool to see (modern art lovers would hate it–their Blackberries in hand, with those tight sweaters in place).  I was flying back to Tampa (direct) on the incredible FORMER price of $30/each way (thanks again, SWA) when I noticed something in the corner of my eye… it APPEARED to be a few folks off to the side in a straight line.  RUT ROW.

Thirty minutes passed as I am waiting/STANDING in the QUEUE (thanks again, “JODY – or similar-like person” for starting the line TOO DAMN EARLY–ref hereinabove) when I noticed a few MORE FOLKS in that second line.  YOU ARE PROBABLY getting the gist of this now: Danger, Will Robinson.

SWA Announcer: “We will be boarding soon; please join the boarding line right away and keep clear of the aisleway the best possible.”  THIS IS WHEN the fun REALLY begins.  Line “A,” where I was, FINALLY realized there was a Line “B.”  No Biggie, it appeared; they seemed cocky, confident, but a touch irritated (like Mike Tyson before the Buster Douglas fight).

Flight from hell?–well, maybe a pending FIGHT from hell.  AWESOME.

The sheet hit the fan when Line “B” noticed Line “A” was gradually moving forward to the door.  It first started with a few “hey, hey” lines but quickly escalated to a verbal shouting match; it was starting to get ugly.  I was deep in line so was not involved – but rather just sitting back enjoying.  “We were here first.”  “No Friggin’ way.”

The SWA personnel moved into action – well, the best they could – but a couple of security personnel finally showed up to assist.

AWESOME.  One knew this WOULD EVENTUALLY happen with this process.

How did it end: line “B” wasn’t too long so they compromised.  No fist fights, but DAMN CLOSE.  Yes, a good aisle seat is worth THAT MUCH.  BUT, the rest was aviation history.

Was this THE LAST STRAW – well, let’s just say an incident report was definitely written up on this one.  The next SWA flight I took (maybe 4 months later) had those new A-B-C cards to make things more civilized–coincidence?

– Paul

PS: While in NOLA please be sure to hit the famous dive restaurant – PORT OF CALL; trust me: get the burger and baked potato.  Awesome, awesome.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

rerere November 17, 2010 at 4:44 pm

That is why I don't fly Southwest. I don't like the idea of not having an assigned seat. OR EVEN BEING GUARANTEED A SEAT!


Jennifer November 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I love Southwest's informality!


rerere November 18, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Really? I mean, WOW, they are below American Or United in my book.


Lisa November 17, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Yeah. You were "sitting back and enjoying" because you knew you had a pair of knitting needles in your briefcase that you could whip out and use if things got sketchy!


Jody November 18, 2010 at 2:59 am

Ah, another Paul story to make him look like a martyr who doesn't deserve what he gets. Get a life Paul, the world doesn't revolve around you.


madachode November 18, 2010 at 5:25 am

That post was equal to the confusing museing of a 6 year old with ADHD. Next time you think or can concentrate long enough to stay on one subject , do us a favor, instead of turning on your computer to type a ADHD ridden tome about nothing, put the gun to your head and pull the trigger, you'd be doing all of us here a favor.


TDF November 18, 2010 at 7:01 am

I gladly pay extra to avoid Southwest. I HATE the line-ups. I like to be able to relax and get a bite to eat at the airport.


Adam November 18, 2010 at 7:55 am

I didn't follow that story at all! It went from one story into another, and then a completely different topic/airline, situation every other sentence. Reminded me of a Bi-polar patient having a manic episode.


PAUL November 18, 2010 at 10:11 am

Recommendation: Try reading it slower and use a highlighter. This is not p's Laura Ingalls Fan Club blog. Keep up the good work.


Paw November 18, 2010 at 12:26 pm

But a highlighter would void the computer monitor's warranty.


paul November 18, 2010 at 9:17 am

Its becoming very clear that "Paul" is a fictitious person.

The person Posting these stories I think is someone connected with this website, probably trying to stir the pot.

Looks like its working to a point albeit making this site truly boring.

Will the REAL people with REAL stories please step up to the plate and start entertaining us again…………and Paul, Sam,John or Greg please get a life and stop posting


PAUL November 18, 2010 at 10:06 am

paul, oh little, little paul: I AM THE ONLY ONE here who can use PAUL ever again. Got it? GOOD. You are allowed to call yourself "p" but that is it. Now go make me a sandwich.

Regarding the overwhelming attention to me and my stories (ironically designed to brighten your boring days at the coffee house (in your tight sweaters)), I can only say: "I am not an animal, I am a human being."

Btw, p has to have made the funniest comments in Al Gore's internet history… you must be laughing your butt off…or, if not, wow, well, well…well. Good stuff; keep up the good work.


Karl November 18, 2010 at 11:24 am

Does this Paul ever run out of pot to smoke? Based on his incoherent crap he is writing he sure did a marvelous job on his diminishing brain cells


Paw November 18, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I never had a problem with SW cattle call system. At least there's no secret to SW's operations, and would take a SW flight hands down over UA. I'd pay more to fly SW over UA any day of the week. At least SW admits they are the grayhound bus of the skies.


ps November 18, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Hey Goober.. Welcome to Air Walmart… the "snooty airline" fares are not that much different.. you get what you pay for… If the line hirts that much take a bus, considering that you want airline service for the equivalentof a bus fare.. You probably shop at WalMart too…


PAUL November 19, 2010 at 6:05 pm

hirts??? … you need to slow down and read it again.. I never complained on the length of the line at all.. I probably buy toilet paper at wal-mart but based on your spelling skills you may stock there on graveyard….seriously, just kidding, but come on, are you all pulling my leg? is this a friend of mine? u all realize my stories are written to be a little humorous, RIGHT? this is so great reading all these…thx for the entertainment folks!!! also, if you bothered to read my other stories you would learn I fly all the airlines… you'll enjoy all but my drinking/throw up story–which admittedly is poor and never should have been written.


ps November 20, 2010 at 3:44 am

Sorry, fat finger syndrome ("u" and "i" are next to each other), but I still stick by the rest of my post 🙂


Chris November 19, 2010 at 4:25 am

When I saw a protracted "story," I scrolled to the end to see that "Paul" had once again submitting a presumably meaningless story. I opted not to read it at all.

Fool me once…..


Jodi November 19, 2010 at 4:38 am

Sadly, I’m now in the habit of scrolling down to see who wrote what…so as to avoid wasting my time. Thanks Paul. Don't ever change your name, I'd hate to accidently read your dribble again =)


au over ga November 19, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Jodi, you should read this one though…you are in the story it seems! Marketers all agree even bad publicity is better than none.


Troy November 20, 2010 at 9:26 pm

I thought this was post was written in good humour. But when reading the reply comments I suddenly realised why you guys had a civil war.


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