Thursday, December 24, 2009

Best of 2009 - Airline

Consistency, on-time performance, no hidden fees, friendly and helpful staff, comfort, good prices, and good equipment handling are longtime hallmarks of this year's Airline of the Year - Southwest Airlines.

Long known as a no-frills, budget carrier Southwest, by being consistent, has evened it up with the legacy carriers. On a flight back home from Charlotte on US Air earlier this year, I couldn't help notice how this carrier had actually sunk below Southwest's supposedly "budget" on board entertainment, no pillows or blankets (however you could buy a travel pack for $14), no food, no free checked luggage, and a very worn looking cabin. US Air on board and airport staff were very helpful though.

On the other hand, Southwest had clean planes, friendly cabin staff, the best baggage handlers when it came to loading our power chair, free checked luggage, free snacks - on the longer flights even approaching a light meal, free use of pillows and blankets, no delays, and low prices.

The only knock I can think of is that there is no assigned seating on Southwest and it can be a free-for-all to find a seat. Get there early if you don't qualify for pre-boarding to get one of the first boarding passed - Southwest has three tiers, A, B, and C, and are handed out first-come, first-served. A boards first, B second, and C last.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Dylan Ashe under CC-SA license

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