Monday, February 8, 2010

SWA seat 15 A

I'm sitting in seat 15A on Southwest (SWA) flight 1509 traveling to Portland, Oregon. I find myself laughing at myself.  My ass is killing me, the flight is completely full.  If they served cheeseburgers the seat capacity would expand so far that everyone would need those slimming jeans for women.  Yes!!!! The men too.

I wanted to comment on the psychology behind the Southwest boarding phenomonon.  If you have never traveled using Southwest you may not know about the rules and the boarding process. Let me explain:

The boarding process on SWA is a simple process for seasoned veterans.  You know who I am talking about!  The "A" listers.  The people that fly SWA more than 30 segments a year.  I fall into that category but I don't buy into all of the hoopla. But if it is your first time you are going to be blown away.  Before I begin I have to explain that there are two types of SWA passengers. The first type is the anal pascifist who is an A lister who flies SWA so much he/she is recognized by every single flight attendant.  The SWA A lister gets to skip the long security line and recieves boarding priveledges over the second type of passenger.  The second type of passenger is the "who cares where I sit passenger" when they board or the person that knows nothing about the SWA boarding policy and arrives dumbfounded.  What is this letter and number mean?  Is that my seat number?  Oh my god! Really?! I didn't know I could check in online. Those are a few quetions the second type of passenger might ask.

Now, when the second type of passenger arrives at the gate they approach five tall silver pillars and two tv screens.  The pillars identify where you stand according to your boarding pass number and group. The tv screens tells everyone how the boarding process works but no one pays attention. 25 minutes before departure the gate agent reviews the boarding process.  Again, no-one listens.  What do you mean I board after the "A" group?  That is what a woman asks traveling with her two small children.  SWA is not family friendly.  The families board between groups A and B not first.  The A group has potentially 60 people. The B group also has 60 people but they board after the A group.  A, B, and C are the three boarding groups. Respectively, A goes first then B then C.  If you are in the A group you are almost guaranteed to get any seat in the airplane. If you are B, you are mostly certain to get a non middle seat but not your first choice. If you are in the C group you are very likely to get a middle seat.

Now, here is the phenomonon; most A listers travel together and sit together with a middle seat open. They also have a tendency to lean inward at the middle seat.  If you happen to be at the end of the B or in the C group, you are gonna have to chose the middle seat.  Secretly people are hoping you will pass their middle seat as they cower closer and closer towards the middle hoping you walk by them.  If you happen to chose that seat, you are polite and ask if anyone is sitting there.  As soon as you ask, you see the red sea split and that middle seat is wide open.  The person sitting  next to the hatch leans against the bulkhead and the aisle person leans out into the aisle.

It is comical watching people boarding on a SWA flight!  Today the biggest person on the flight boarded last and was flustered because all that was left were middle seats.  The guy sat between two other guys that were just as big in the shoulders.

I laugh beacause I start wondering what kind of SWA passenger I am...being an A lister, I don't have to check in online because I am guaranteed to board in the low A's. The only demand I have is usually a window seat that is perfectly situated to where my shoulder fits in it.  Guess what?  15A wasn't assigned, it was selected. I chose to sit here.  I suppose the irony between the two type of passengers are the one's that choose and the ones that settle. I want to choose what I want! I don't want to settle. I will live my life with this as my motto. For you SMFPB.   

Sent from Tim's iPhone


Anonymous said...

Awesome! I see you're using the mobile blogging feature on your phone. Isn't it convenient? I'm glad you like it. Have a safe trip to Portland! See you next month!

jtayloralameda said...

WOW, you sure hit the nail on the head. As an "A" lister, I love not checking in online unless I have time and although I don't check luggage often it's nice knowing I can without waiting in line.

I love being at the airports and watch the second group you mention try to find their number, especially in Vegas!! I love chosing my favorite seat -- exit aisle, 2 seater one on the aisle...that's me!

Toni said...

I was a newbie to the SWA phenomenon. You have taught me. I'm being serious. High five to the SW elite!