I’m not a big gambler. (During a recent Black Jack lesson in a casino in San Juan, I was even hesitant to bet my fake money.) And I hate being ripped off. Both reasons I really hated clicking on that final Purchase button when buying flights. What if something comes up and we have to make a change? The $150 change fee that airlines charge is beyond ridiculous to me and leaves me feeling ripped off beyond just about anything else I can think of. Seriously – $300 for the both of us is a lot of money. You could buy several cute dresses with that!
So I was already predisposed to love Southwest Airlines just for the reason that they have no change fees. This is a company I could do business with and not feel ripped off. Southwest finally started flying out of Atlanta this year and I eagerly awaited an opportunity to try its low fares. After searching for fares to DC and finding RT fares in excess of $400, I booked a trip from ATL to Baltimore, an easy commute into DC. The fare? $59 each way.
Next step – figuring out the boarding process. Southwest does not assign seat numbers and you either pay a $10 priority boarding fee to be in the group that goes first, or board in the order you check in, up to 24 hours in advance. I downloaded the Southwest app onto my iPhone and as we were driving to a meeting that Thursday, 24 hours in advance of our Friday 11:10 a.m. flight, I put in my reservation number and was able to check in on my phone and get Group B, positions 3 and 4. I had decided not to gamble the $20 for my husband and me to board in Group A.
My gamble paid off. While we weren’t able to line up with Group A, which consisted of two groups of 30 people each, we lined up in the front of Group B and got two seats together up front. (On the way back I again checked in line exactly 24 hours early and got at the end of Group A.) So my advice? Save the $10 and just be sure to check in right at 24 hours in advance. We saved $40 right there, money much better spent on a bottle of wine in a restaurant in DC.
The next big thing about Southwest is no baggage fees. This was a short trip and we opted not to check our bags but it’s nice to know we could have if desired and not pay that other major rip-off fee, which can add $100 to a RT ticket for two people.
The seats on Southwest were comfortable and we had plenty of legroom. The service was friendly and when it was time to serve drinks, the flight attendants first took orders then brought the drinks on trays. I appreciated not having to time any trips to the restroom or just to stretch my legs around the hulking and slow-moving beverage cart.
We had a great experience on Southwest for a much lower fare. I will always check Southwest from now when booking airfare. Booking with them makes it so much more pleasant to push that Purchase button. I feel anticipation and excitement about an upcoming trip, rather than anxiety and fear that my plans my have to change.