Flying has never been a favorite activity of mine. Some of this, I am sure, is the fact that most of the flying I have done in the past 25 years or so has been associated with work and not pleasure. I also have those fond memories of the smoking section of days gone by which, with my luck, tended to be all of one row behind the row I was crammed into. Just close enough for a strong winded smoker to shoot a steady stream of smoke up my nostrils. However, my most recent venture in the skies was to get us to one of the biggest cruise ships in the world. Warm sunny weather in March what could be better. Surely, I could put up with a bit of bouncing in the skies.
So we decided leaving on a jet plane was the way to go. Our booked flights through Southwest were pretty reasonably priced and at my favorite airport Mitchell Field no less. However, Southwest has also come up with this concept known as open seating which, for the ultimate in planners like myself, seems like a ridiculously bad idea. I like planning on being in a certain seat next to my bride of 25 years who is in possession of all the on board munchies. Open seating throws all that to wind. As I squeezed my boarding pass in frustration over this change in process, (how about a little change management Southwest), I did take a bit of comfort knowing that we were to the front of the C boarding group. I figured those in groups D and E might be the ones in real seat and overhead space trouble. Oh but no silly me, group C ended up being a rag tag bunch of about 10 people. Groups A and B were lined up in force 60 strong per group marching through like a bunch of British redcoats. It soon became clear that, by the time group B had lined up, the terminal area was pretty much empty and group C was basically a joke. In desperation, I was tempted to grab a kid, any kid, and make my way to the boarding with young children line. Unfortunately, a still small voice told me this was not the best of options. Finally, as the ticketing agent scanned our useless boarding pass, she left us with the ever popular airline words of encouragement “grab any open seat it might be your only option”. So I kissed my wife goodbye and headed for the first single seat I could find. This method allows for one’s angst to increase exponentially as you approach the rear of the plane. I did see one defensive lineman sized gentleman sitting in the middle seat defiantly staring down anyone who would dare try to squeeze into the aisle or window seats next to him. Fortunately, some folks liked their traveling companion enough to actually choose the middle seat leaving a couple of aisle openings for the straggling C group. I grabbed the first seat I could find, granted nowhere near my favorite candy toting traveling companion, and settled in for a candy less flight.
The one positive in all of this is that Southwest does allow one bag to fly free so load up and limit the amount needed in the carryon luggage.