Why I Fly on Southwest
Probably my biggest pet peeve with flying is baggage fees. Years ago, airlines only charged extra money for luggage that was oversized or too heavy. Then in May 2008, fees for a second checked bag were added by most airlines in response to rising fuel prices. Despite costs decreasing later that year, airlines increased their baggage fees when realizing what a cash cow it was. Some now charge for carry-on bags!
Fortunately, Southwest Airlines (whose fares are comparable to their competitors) hasn’t succumbed to this greediness. They still allow passengers to check two bags for free if they are within size and weight limitations. You can also bring a carry-on bag plus a personal item that will fit underneath the seat. As a missionary, I travel with four pieces of luggage. My two checked bags mostly contain clothing and gospel literature. My carry-on includes computer accessories I don’t want to get damaged. My personal item is a backpack containing my MacBook Pro, iPad, and other items I may access while in the air.
Another nice thing about Southwest is they don’t charge an extra fee if you need to change your itinerary. In April 2020, I originally booked a flight from Minneapolis to Washington, DC. A few days later, my friend Jim called requesting I meet him in Denver and then take a road trip to his house in Northern Virginia. I found a flight to Denver cheaper than the one going to DC. The difference in funds got used on a later Southwest flight.
In January 2022, I had another flight scheduled from Minneapolis to DC. Southwest canceled and rebooked that flight three times because of an employee shortage (possibly due to pending vaccination requirements). Fortunately, they gave me two $250 vouchers as compensation. A similar thing happened this past Tuesday. I planned to fly from Minneapolis to Buffalo. That flight got delayed due to mechanical issues. Because I would miss the last connecting flight in Baltimore that evening, Southwest rebooked my flight to leave Minneapolis the following morning. They compensated me with a free hotel room plus a $200 voucher.
Southwest flights are usually punctual. Unfortunately, there were more delays with my trip to Buffalo. The first flight from Minneapolis left a half hour late. My connecting flight out of Chicago left over two hours past its original departure time. Stormy weather had caused other flights that day to be delayed or canceled. I didn’t receive the usual complimentary inflight drinks and snacks because of turbulence.
If you have never flown on Southwest and considering doing so, be aware you cannot pick your seat when reserving a ticket. Once you check in within 24 hours of departure, they will assign you a number to line up at the gate. I always check in online ASAP, so I’ll receive a number that will allow me to get on the plane sooner. I prefer window seats and usually look for an open one closest to the front. That way, I can get off the plane quicker at my destination.
Some people no longer fly because of increased security measures, which include occasional pat-downs that can be intrusive. I noticed having extra tracts and gospels of John in my carry-on bags triggers additional screening by the TSA. What I hated even more were mask requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. That prompted one evangelist I respect to start flying on a private jet. I wouldn’t mind having my own someday. In the meantime, I’m content to continue to fly on Southwest.
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” - Isaiah 40:31