thumbs up, Southwest

I used to dread flying Southwest. I really, really hated the open seating policy. The gate was always a madhouse, and I resented having to stand in line. (Lines really raise my anxiety level.) Plus, I would rather have to sit next to a random stranger than a stranger who thought, hmm, I’d like to sit next to HER — that’s how you end up sitting next to strangers who use the in-flight time to try to bring you to Jesus. Accordingly, I avoided Southwest as much as possible.

Now that airlines charge for checked bags, you pretty much have to queue up with any airline to make sure that you can claim some overhead space. Interestingly, Southwest is one of the few airlines that you don’t run into the huge cluster at the gate these days: not only has Southwest introduced a numbering system that makes the open seating policy infinitely more orderly, Southwest doesn’t charge for checked bags. In an added perk, Southwest will give you a snack!

I flew from LaGuardia (my least favorite place on earth) to Midway last night, and Southwest offered the cheapest last minute flight. As luck would have it, there was a small family seated behind me that had not one, but two screaming children. Having been on more flights with noisy babies than not lately, I wish babies were prohibited from flying. I realize babies have to get places too, but there is nothing worse than paying a couple hundred dollars to be trapped in a small environment with a shrill banshee for a few hours.

I wasn’t planning on having a drink on the flight but, by the time the guy came around to take orders and the baby had been wailing non-stop and the older child had been emitting periodic, piercing shrieks, I changed my mind. I ordered the merlot, and he passed me a filled-to-the-brim cup. When I tried to pay him for it, he gave me an apologetic shrug in the children’s direction and told me it was on them. So thumbs up, Southwest. Thanks for recognizing that a little wine can be all the difference when there’s a baby on board.

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