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pLOG 10: Five things I HATE about SOUTHWEST Airlines

I’m pissed at Southwest right now. In fact, I actually wrote most of this while steaming at flight level 340 en-route to Seattle from Baltimore. This one FA, we’ll call her Jane, even though that’s not her real name, decided to serve my seatmate 6 Jack and Cokes before we even made it past Chicago. This, along with a healthy dose of chew, turned the big fella into a drooling mess. Finally, the attendant brought my seatmate a spit cup. You know, one of those made by sandwiching a napkin in-between two clear plastic cups in an attempt to obscure the mess. Not sure if this was procedure or simply a reaction to the monster she helped create.

Drunk Jack & Coke

I snapped a quick pic and Tweeted Southwest in-flight. They responded with some generic “we do love a party in the sky” line. In other words, not their circus, not their monkeys.

southwest airlines tweet

Now I feel a little bad blasting anyone for pubic alcohol consumption. In fact, I kind of feel a bit hypocritical doing so. I’m sure that I’ve personally offended plenty after a night of liquoring it up. Nevertheless, this shit was gross. 3+ hours of a drooling, belching, arm-flailing-on-my lap mess. Keepin’ in classy Southwest.

Nevertheless, this is not at all a video to express any overall dislike of the airline. I actually think they’re a great carrier with some great policies. I really should do a positive follow-up. So, without any more small talk, here are five things I can’t stand about Southwest Airlines.

southwest hawaii

# 1 Open Seating

Some love the idea, I personally hate it. Though studies have been conducted that seem to support the idea that it is indeed the quicker way to board, I think the increase in hassle just isn’t worth it. One is either required to pay $15 extra to auto-check in early, or maniacally hit refresh exactly 24 hours prior to departure in order to secure a not-so-awful boarding position. Furthermore, unless you and your travelling companions are completely in-sync, you’re likely to be getting in line separately.

I believe this is one area the legacy carriers have it right over Southwest. The ability to choose a seat beforehand, doublecheck Seatguru, and ensure you’re able to sit next to your companions is the superior way to board.

Finally, the most frustrating part of cattle call boarding is the mad rush to the gate. If, for some reason you have an unforeseen delay, say at the TSA’s security theater checkpoint, you could lose your boarding position, even if you’ve paid for it.

So for me, open seating is the worst. I’ll take an assigned seat, with no rush to the gate any day.

southwest premium cabin first class

#2 No Premium Cabin

Coach sucks, no matter how much it’s sugar coated. Granted, Southwest does coach better than others, but it’s still economy. Your knees are still subject to the whims of the passenger forward of you, and one is always a potential manspreading victim.

#3 A Relatively Worthless Status Tier

A-List preferred. I consider it one step above useless…one small step. Honestly, it provides the same level of amenities you’ll get with many co-branded airline credit cards. No lounge access, no cabin upgrades, no flair at all really. You do get priority boarding, but refer back to point 1, open seating, and even this could be reduced to nothing if you’re held up for any reason.

southwest mobile app

#4 No Ability to Book International Flights via the Southwest mobile app

What year is it again? 2018 if you’re using the Gregorian calendar, or 5778 if following the Hebrew one. In either case, far too much time has elapsed since the launch of the iPhone app store nearly a decade ago to still be lacking this basic functionality.

Though I rarely actually book international travel when I’m not in front of a desktrop OS, the fact that one cannot simply glance at fares or schedules, when, say, one is out to dinner and making rough plans is absurd.

So while this might fly in North Korea, where the year is 107, it definitely doesn’t fly here.

#5 No codeshare partners

Once you’ve accumulated some Rapid Rewards, it sure would be nice to use them for a nice vacation overseas. You can get to Asia in business-class on United for 65,000 miles. How about Southwest? Oh right, you’re limited to this hemisphere. Credit where’s it’s due, at least they’re now flying to Mexico and the Caribbean.

southwest hawaii

Hawaiian flights supposedly start later this year. But for the foreseeable future, anything that crosses an ocean is off-limits to Rapid Rewards loyal customers. Even if Southwest doesn’t operate a long-haul network, there are plenty of other non-alliance carriers that could get one to another continent. Even if booking were somewhat of a hassle, it would be nice if the carrier allowed those with miles to burn a way to use them on something other than a low-value hotel redemption or a flight on Southwest metal. I’m thinking the ability to book a flight on any carrier for say 1 to 1.5 cents per Rapid Rewards mile would be great.