|'Southwest Air, LUVin' YOU, as long as you're not chubby.' An actual tshirt for purchase.|
Southwest. Grumble Grumble.
As a former flight attendant who graduated with all of the greatest safety knowledge possible (certainly if there was a Summa Cum Laude level for f/a school I would've achieved it!), I have to admit that I was horrified by Southwest and all of its ridiculous non-procedural procedures.
So let me understand this...I have to pay extra to check in earlier to get a better spot in line of the stampede that is their boarding procedure. If not, I am one of the last to board, and even though my ticket was still a pretty pricey fare (peanut fares are extinct!), I will not be joining my husband (or children for that matter) unless it is directly in front of the toilet, reserved for the poor jerk who just happened to get a distracting phone call when he was trying to check in on Southwest.com.
|Flying is like a box of chocolates. Actually, no it's not. At all.|
On this first instance, Hubs and I decide to take a trip to Las Vegas seeing as how we had been in Survival Mode for 2 years having babies 13 months apart. Not fully understanding the cut-throat check in competition, we ended up with Boarding Group C - as in Crap, Comical, Caca...Cargo you get the drift. We are finally able to board when we do a quick search of the plane - nothing - nothing with 2 seats together...wait a minute..those two seats at the front appear empty...JACKPOT! We beat the system...holla! There was a book on the seat and a very, very large woman retrieving something from the overhead compartment. (Please know, as someone who has struggled with my weight all of my life, I have NOTHING against heavy people so don't even start judging me. My godmother was obese to put it lightly, and when she flew she bought two seats so as not to infringe on the passenger's space next to her. Anyhow, I am telling a story people...read on...).
I nodded to Hubs to go for it and to sit by the window..we moved swiftly to our now- premium seats feeling like we just got one over on this crackerjack airline. I sit down, exhale, and buckle up. What the hell is that swishing of polyester rubbing together sound? It's coming from the rear end of the lady next to me as she backs up into the seat.
I start to get nervous. I am doing a quick mathematical process of the space allotted to her in her seat vs the width of her bottom - I am no Physics major, but I'm thinking this is not good. Sure enough, she sat down and I felt the weight of her thigh on my thigh as I winced in pain and grimaced at the thought of 6 long hours of torture supporting someone else's cellulite.(God knows I have enough trouble supporting my own damn cellulite). I look over at Hubs, he's looking out the window, peaceful, smiling, still basking in the victory of our seats in the front. I feel bad for her (I know how miserable I felt being chubby, I can't imagine carrying this type of weight around) but she is making labored breathing sounds much like a pug dog, the 1/2 snort, 1/2 death rattle and it makes me worried that she might not make it through the flight. I scooch over as far as I can to Hubs when he looks over me and has a reaction, much like Kramer from Seinfeld when he was caught off guard, as he sees what's happening on my seat. I tell him it's ok, we'll manage, and he shakes his head and gives me a somewhat reassuring, sympathetic smile.
|I could have used this contraption that day.|
She calls the flight attendant over..whew, I think, she's going to ask to move her seat as clearly she feels bad and uncomfortable that she is occupying 1/3 of my seat as well... "I'm going to need a seatbelt extender.." she says. "Why yes you are!" the dingbat f/a says. <<Sigh>>.
Fast forward several hours. My left leg is asleep and I have a crick in my neck from looking in Hubs' general direction for too long. I try several times to be pleasant to her but she hates me from the get-go and now I am starting to resent her and even contemplate asking her for 1/3 of my fare. Lucky for her I am high on Las Vegas aspirations and am too excited to be confrontational. I can't imagine how awful it is to be her. I sympathize. But from a consumer-point-of-view, I paid big money for this ticket, shouldn't I be somewhat uncomfortable in coach like everyone else as opposed to extremely uncomfortable?
|Nobody gets in the way of me and my slot addiction...not even numbness in my legs.|
We land, finally and I stand up only to fall right into the aisle as my entire left leg is paralyzed from not moving for 6 long hard hours. The mental determination I have to get to a slot machine as soon as humanly possible wills my leg to move and I exit the cabin in a way that only a true addict can understand.
Three exhilarating days later we are back on this airplane and heading back to Manchester only this time we have seats somewhere in the middle, together, occupying 100% of our seat with only our asses. After the very familiar ding indicating to the f/a that it's safe to start beverage service, I see a 'suspicious looking' man stumbling toward the flight attendant like he's rabid or something. He lunges and looks like he's grabbing for the f/a. The guy in front of us jumps up and restrains him. 'SIR STAND STILL AND DON'T MOVE!' I look at Hubs...oh shit this is bad, this is so bad...he's a terrorist...who the hell terrorizes people flying in and out of Vegas? Haven't we tortured ourselves enough for spending too much time in Vegas pretending we can still drink and stay up late like we were in our twenties? Hubs is watching carefully and I know he's wondering if he's going to have to jump on this guy too. The man is freaking out - and most of us around him are freaking out too just watching him and wondering if he is trying to stab the flight attendant. Why, why didn't we just go bowling or something, why Vegas, why did my parents have to pass on their gambling addiction to me? I had to insist on Vegas...
|There were flight attendants jamming the aisle of the airplane and all we could hear was SIR, STAY VERY STILL. Nothing to see or be alarmed at on a flight these days, right?|
"IS THERE A DR. ON BOARD?" the flight attendant yells. Finally someone came forward. At this point the passenger is lying on the floor being restrained. Several minutes later, they say something to him and leave him lying on the floor and walk away. I've had enough ; my nerves are shot to hell, my heart is palpitating, I am sleep deprived and going through slot machine dt's.... I motion to the f/a and ask what is going on. The flight attendant says "oh, that poor man was having a seizure and we just had to restrain him so he didn't get hurt." "Ohhhh yes of course..."
Hubs looks at me, shakes his head and goes back to his book. It's like being a flight attendant, I know too much, and I'm on high alert all the time - so everything is more dramatic and magnified than it should be. This is why Hubs likes to refer to me on travel days as "Airport Andrea," meaning I am irrational, paranoid and unreasonable most of the time. *shrugs*
|Words you never want to hear in-flight.|
Sigh. What have I become? I used to be able to fly 8 times a day back and forth, not even breaking a sweat. Pre-9/11, being a flight attendant was fun, it was cool, it was almost easy. Now everybody's on edge, pissed off, paranoid...there's no fun in flying anymore and we are at the mercy of the airlines. Now you'll find a seat, probably not with your family, you'll sit down and shut up and eat your bag of 5 1/2 pretzels and say PLEASE AND THANK YOU!
More flight attendant stories of old to come...Until then...remember to get your seat back up in its full and upright position - because if anything happens...that 1 1/2- inch difference could save your life...
Keep flying the not-so-friendly skies..be safe...be kind..be alert...but whatever you do, be prepared for anything.