Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Who Let the Dawgs Out?

The Mrs. and I flew out to California for the long weekend. We took Southwest Airlines for the first time in nearly a year. I would have flown United, had it not been for a series of problems I had to deal with in December. Out of three round trips/six segments on United in December, two flights were severely delayed, and two were completely canceled. One of the canceled flights was at the start of the Christmas weekend. United was unable to put us on another flight that day or most of the next day - causing us to miss out on our Christmas vacation. I'll post more on dealing with United in another entry.

For now, I want to talk about the most recent trip. Southwest Airlines plays the role of a scrappy underdog in the competitive passenger airline market. The things I like about Southwest are the great customer service, scheduled flights that takeoff and arrive on-time and the reasonable prices.

In the flights I have taken on Southwest, the pilots and flight crews have always been friendly and helpful. And the flights are almost always on-time, if not early. Plus, if you book far enough in advance, you can lock in rates as low as $99 each way, coast-to-coast. Contrast that with most major air carriers that appear to have management-labor issues, planes with mechanical problems and often charge twice as much for the same trans-con flights.

There are downsides to Southwest. For example, the ticket agents tend to be a bit hurried and never seem to smile. Plus, I have often had to wait an hour to claim my bag at BWI. But overall, the airline is efficient and professional.

One other issue that can be annoying is the type of passengers that fly on Southwest. You get a range of passengers, but most tend to be leisure passengers. That was the case on our flight out to Los Angeles last weekend. Included on the plane were 20 Baltimore Ravens fans, sporting jerseys and hooting and hollering at the gate and on the plane. Baltimore hosted Indianapolis on Saturday in an AFC Semi-Final playoff match. Baltimore was heavily favored because it had the best record in the Conference.

Oddly enough, the Ravens fans were leaving town when their team was playing in town. Why, many people asked. It was because the lot of them got tickets to attend The Price is Right game show and hoped to be contestants.

I don't mind football fans that show their pride. But these people made the flight feel like five hours in a bawdy house. I'm just glad smoking was prohibited and the amount of hard liquor was limited on the flight.

The lesson I learned from this flight is to bring a good book and a set of ear plugs to tune out the rowdy passengers.

And, if you are curious, the Ravens lost to the Colts in the playoff match. Perhaps if the Ravens fans had stayed in Baltimore to cheer on the team, the outcome would have been different. Whose idea was it to "let the dawgs out" anyway?