The Great Southwest

I travel back to Detroit often, and had to fly back unexpectedly this past weekend. Confronted with the exorbitant  last-minute fares of most airlines, my cousin suggested I not fly my normal Delta — despite the draw to build miles for my next trip (thank you Delta AMEX!) — and instead opt for Southwest Airlines.

I haven’t flown on Southwest since I was a kid. In fact, I’m almost certain that the last flight my family took on Southwest was to Baltimore to visit my dad’s brother when he was still there. I’ve always heard good things about the airline, but the best thing was that it  had a wonderful flight change policy — no fees, as long as the flight you wish to take in place of the original is of equal value — and a ticket price that was well under price of Delta ($472 vs. $313).

Southwest boasts two free checked bags, open seating, complimentary soda and small snacks (pretzels or nuts), in-flight WiFi ($5 for all day, same device), and some of the friendliest gate agents I’ve ever met.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the in-flight crew on any of my three flights with Southwest. They weren’t welcoming, but they weren’t rude, either. My flight from DTW to BWI was a bit messy, but an overall pleasant experience. My flights from LGA to MDW and MDW to DTW were very clean, and very quick to board. Now, the real kicker was that the flight from BWI to LGA was delayed by 5 hours. Normally, this would send my temper through the roof. Southwest, however, made the experience rather delightful.

I received calls each time the flight was delayed or bumped back, and when I finally decided to instead take the Amtrak for $122 to New York Penn Station from BWI, I called Southwest to see how they would accomodate. The lovely phone agent explained that the bulk of the funds for my trip, because it was multi-leg, were applied to the first leg from DTW, but that she could still accomodate a small (teeny tiny, really) refund of $15. Hey — I’ll take it!

I made it to the train station in just a few minutes thanks to the nifty airport shuttle, and am en-route to Penn Station as I type.

To Southwest, and to the fine folks of Amtrak, thank you for being so accommodating and otherwise lovely. Much appreciated.

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