With hundreds of flights up my sleeve with various airlines (although I am an Airline Snob and usually fly with airlines I have at least heard of before), I did not have much knowledge of Southwest Airlines. This changed on my trip to the US though as I took my chances and flew from Oakland to Seattle return. And to be quite honest I have mixed reviews or maybe possess a little confusion at the whole idea. Sure, they were a no frills airline and very reasonably priced airfares, but to have such contrasting experiences. This might help explain myself a little better.....
Oakland to Seattle
Besides being a little put off by having to line up and be herded like cattle before even leaving the terminal building, the ground staff were friendly enough. However, being greeted when boarding the plane was a much different story altogether. Happiness was radiating from the crew and I received such a warm welcome - As though my dreams of celebrity had finally come true (even I can strive for such reasonable and reachable life goals....). I felt valued as a Customer, which lets face it, in these days is very few and far between. What surprised me was not only was the flight continuing on from one city, it seemed that it had been weaving its way throughout North America all day and passengers who were on the plane when we embarked were flying from Las Vegas (I could not contain my jealousy on this detail until I saw the post Las Vegas special of "I spent the last few days non-stop partying so why did I pay for a hotel room" look which was all too apparent on the faces of those disembarking the flight).
At this point still undecided on my thoughts of Southwest, any concerns I possessed were soon put to rest by the Safety Procedure display by the cabin crew. Hard enough as it is to get seasoned travellers to pay attention to this announcement at the best of times, this crew definitely found a unique way of engaging the attention of most, if not all passengers. It was absolutely hilarious - Yep, you heard me right - The whole cabin full of laughter. The use of comedy, together with the props (we had a fake chain smoking Elvis delivering the 'no smoking on board' reel) were so effective that even 'those seasoned travellers' mentioned above were enticed into looking up from their newspaper or books so as not to miss out on any fun (or maybe they were more concerned that by not paying attention would only give the crew ammunition to be singled out.....either way it was effective). Better yet, this continued throughout the entire flight but two of my favourite lines....."Welcome to Hawaii" (we were landing at this point into a wet and windy Seattle) and the other..."We hope you enjoyed this flight and if you did, please look out the window and smile and wave at the customers travelling on our competition as we taxi in to show that you made the right choice".
Seattle to Oakland
What a contrast to the last enjoyable Southwest Airlines flight. The crew were polite, I'll give them that but would it have been so hard to raise a smile? The crew on my flight to Seattle actually seemed to enjoy their job and if not enjoy then they were making the most of a bad situation. This flight on the other hand, I would give the experience two thumbs down it it weren't for the fact they delivered me safely to Oakland!
So as you can see I'm a little conflicted on Southwest Airlines. Either I was lucky enough to get a great experience on the first flight or just unlucky enough to get a crew who were not taught to smile on their job training course.
The jury is still out on this one folks. Maybe a few of you could enlighten me as to your experience with this airline.