Flown domestic recently? If you have, you might have lamented the fact that we no longer receive complimentary meals--even on cross-country flights--or the fact that Samsung Galaxy Note 7s are no longer allowed on board due to the possibility of spontaneously igniting on fire in your pocket or in your lap.
Surprisingly, one of the most popular airlines for domestic flights today is Southwest. The Dallas-based airline prides itself on its Texas hospitality, its sugar-laced peanuts, and its flexible cancelation Travel Fund policy. From 2014, the airline carried the most domestic passengers of any U.S. airline.
But Southwest provides one of the biggest problems of any airline--the inability to book a seat in advance, no matter where you're flying to.
If, you're like me, and you dislike sitting in the middle seat, by the restroom, by the captain's cabin, or really anywhere that isn't an aisle seat, chances are that you'll be battling tooth and nail for a place on Southwest. Their first-come, first-serve policy when it comes to seat booking makes sense for those who are responsible, always on time, and remember their obligations often. It does not, however, serve very well for people who throw all their plans together haphazardly--like me.
On Southwest, I've found myself next to crying children, burping children, eating children, in front of kicking children, and falling asleep on the arms of strangers in the uncomfortable middle seat. Rarely--in fact, I can probably count on one hand--have I been able to board with the "A" boarding group. On flights I've booked the night before, I'm always resigned to the "B", sometimes even "C" group--usually fated to end up seated in the back row, with a seat that doesn't recline, smack in front of the flying porta-potty.
Yes, I know that Southwest like most other airlines offers early boarding to its frequent flyers (I'm not one of those), but the average flyer on Southwest is still left duking it out with their cabin mates for seats.
And don't get me started about trying to get a carry-on bag in an already-overstuffed overhead compartment. Those are always full by the time I get on board--meaning I end up having to jam it under the seat in front of me, and enjoy having my knees up where my tray table should be for the duration of my flight.
If you're making plans to take a ride on the airline that "in a world of no" provides a "plane full of YES," make sure to online check-in for your flight early on.
The kicking child behind you next time will definitely make you wish you did.