DALLAS, Texas – Amid a large post-Mardi Gras throng of travelers fleeing the Crescent City, I found myself late for my flight and used that as an excuse to not submit my Southwest frequent flyer number.
I say excuse because if you earn a free flight on Southwest, is that supposed to be some kind of reward?
For example, let’s say I redeemed my credits for a free flight to Dallas to watch my favorite women’s basetball team. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Group A, B or C, because no matter where I sit, some rotund freak is going to come along and place himself right next to me in the middle seat.
There I am, got my aisle seat all picked out. I’m leaning towards the middle, and my right arm sticking out on the aisle, so it looks like two people are there, in an effort to protect a buffer seat between me and some seemingly normal random dude.
And the last guy on the plane is some hulking mass of humanity, who’s kinda sweaty, an majorly bulbous. And he sits down right in that empty seat.
My new stinky pal has his love-garage doors invading my personal space to the point where I have to lean over to not drown in his meaty flank. To his credit, he was gentlemanly enough to hold onto his shoulders so the full range of his girth did not suffocate me.
My back couldn’t even find the middle of the seat, it was on the edge of the seat, which is angled inward. The next 90 minutes turned the muscles in my back into a twisting coil akin to a can of worms of spasms I’ll be feeling tomorrow.
I lean forward, fire up the laptop and try to work. No room. I can’t type, I can’t move the cursor. I can’t comfortably sit. I hang over the armrest and spill out into the aisle and get hammered by a drink cart and sympathetic but powerless stewardess. I can’t lean my seat back — did I mention I’m in the very last row? And there’s a line forming for the bathroom, so I can’t even escape.
Finally, I realize I can lift my armrest using MacGyver-like tactics on its hinge, only to be told we’re beginning descent and I have to put the armrest down.
A free flight on Southwest (No, I didn’t redeem points for this) is no reward. It’s no-class ticket to hell. Sure, I’m getting somewhere for free, but sitting next to a rotund stranger who could suffocate me makes me think I’m better off hitchhiking if I need to go somewhere cheaply. (Sure, I might get raped or killed, but hey, at least there’s a sense of adventure!).
I do feel violated, though! This communist airline, where no person’s seat priority is beneficial, ensures the discomfort of all passengers, demeans us with a cattle-call lineup to board, and demoralizes us to flashbacks of the fifth-grade bus (assuming everyone in your fifth grade class were strangers with hyper-active pituitary glands). And that’s all before take off.
The experience reminds me of how I hate romantic comedies, where the cute quirky chick meets Jerry McGuire on a plane, or Tom Cruise sits next to Meg Ryan. Do I have a hot female stranger plop down next to me? No, I’ve had one flight ever sitting next to an attractive girl who I didn’t know before getting on the plane (she was happily married to the guy sitting on the other side of her).
The next time I fly Southwest, I better have a hot, thin, 25-29 year old, single redhead who’s attracted to witty, immature goofy-looking men, sit down next to me and say “Do you mind if I sit here?” while carrying a brown paper bag full of deli-meats and french bread. “Sorry if I take up room with all my stuff here, but I’m making sandwiches. Would you like one?” Is that too much to ask?
Probably. But after all the emotional and physical torture Southwest has inflicted upon me, they owe me an introduction to Miss Awesome and the future Mrs. Kev-Fu.