Flying High... Southwest Airlines!

Flying from Newark Liberty, NJ to Las Vegas, NV via Phoenix, AZ with Southwest Airlines allowed me to see 'No Frills' from an American perspective. Whilst my friends Tom and Paolo flew with Delta Air Lines, my Southwest experience had some highlights of its very own! So, America's answer to 'Ryanair' impressed me for several reasons. Southwest, those mixed drinks! 

I must admit that it was quite strange to be at Newark Liberty International Airport as a passenger because my Industrial Placement has had me at that NJ airport night and day! Nevertheless, my Las Vegas holiday had finally arrived! I knew my way to Terminal A, so printing my boarding card was easy! Clearing the TSA Security Checkpoint had me feeling like I was back at work, I was definitely not a work that day! Bound for Phoenix, AZ with my Las Vegas experience about to begin my Southwest jet boarded in a manner that was both organised yet crazy. As I've had the pleasure of travelling with Ryanair, I was pleasantly surprised not to see passengers running to the boarding gate after the first announcement to wrestle for a seat. Unfamiliar with those Terminal A settings, I asked the gate staff at the nearest Southwest gate if it was the Phoenix flight? Surprised by my passport not being checked, this U.S domestic flight hit different! My friends were delayed over at Delta? Now, that was entirely their own fault! Fly!

Southwest Airlines amazed me by not charging for their non-alcoholic drinks and snacks, well when I'm on my holidays soft drinks are simply a mixer, please! I was embarking on my very first holiday since starting my Industrial Placement, so I wanted my flying experience to be as good as my holiday time! Our crew passed through the cabin shortly after take-off with their quirky clipboard and debit/credit card machines to take drinks orders. No, I didn't see any trolley carts on-board that Phoenix, Arizona bound flight. No! Due to the light load of passengers on that PHX bound flight, I had made myself comfortable lounging in my very own row. Beverly, one of the lovely crew members fulfilled my request that was a Gin and Tonic, only $4 dollars as the tonic was free! No, that was a bargain! As I neared the end of my first holiday drink I requested another Gin and Tonic brandishing my debit card to be told "Honey, don't worry about it!" Would it be free drinks for me all the way through to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport? Ey!

As my Southwest Airlines flight kept its direction firmly towards Phoenix, our timely manner put Tom & Paolo's delayed Delta mess into perfect focus as I sipped on my mixed drink. They had boasted about knowing the manager for Delta's Newark operation, they had their connection to make but their original flights weren't meant to be. I was having the last laugh with my budget price ticket and on-time departure. Relaxing into my Southwest Airlines seat, those drinks had me feeling fabulous, the hectic schedule that I had been on was no more for a few days, I could drink to that! The last few months had been a whirlwind, never in my wildest dreams did I envisage a trip to Las Vegas on the cards? No! Phoenix called, those drinks had me feeling buzzed! Touching down at Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport feeling very boozy, I then made my way to check the transfer screen to see which gate my Las Vegas bound flight would board from. That desert airport had me in a brand new state, I had never been to Arizona before! I'll be back, AZ!

Truly, my state of mind was still very much still 'in the clouds'. After locating my onward flights gate, I grabbed a small pizza because aside from those NABISCO snacks, breakfast had not been on the menu that day! The experience transferring flights with Southwest was fine, I didn't have to change terminals or concourses so I had no stress, if truth be told I was quite apprehensive about changing planes. I honestly had nothing to be worried about, it was fine and with those directions taken with caution and care, I stayed ready for that Vegas flight. Boarding my Las Vegas flight was not a problem, I was suitably boozed up by that time but I continued to keep it cute. To my surprise, I was asked to move from the window to the aisle seat because another passenger had to place his oxygen tank next to the window. I had no issue with that request, being on the Las Vegas flight I asked if I could have a little G&T for my trouble? Please, it was my one and only flight that I would be taking into Sin City, I had to at least try! SW, I'm a good pax! 

Working for an airline saw me interacting with the crew all the time at work, my airline was scheduled and flew to London Heathrow. Southwest Airlines, being a U.S carrier that focusses on a budget model for its flights, see the difference? Now, how would the crew members be on-board that Phoenix bound flight? Dressed in their white shirts, blue cardigans and khaki trousers, the Southwest Airlines crew had a very different uniform policy when in comparison to the airline that I work for. Merely observations I made with no shade thrown towards the crew at Southwest. I had been greeted with a smile, a smile that wasn't like any other, it was truly a natural 'welcome sir' smile. The crew did not need to operate trolleys, they had their clipboards for their drinks orders as I have mentioned before. I had been much too excited for breakfast that morning so had banked on being able to buy something on-board. I had chosen well, Southwest Airlines had my back! The delightful Southwest crew reminded me of 'Airline: USA!' 

I mentioned about 'Beverly' already, throughout that first flight she was right there to hook me up with some extra snacks from that 'NABISCO' snack situation! I was good! My special pre-Vegas cocktails kept coming throughout the flights, adding that my friends were on a different flight amazingly made the crew take care of me more. It was like no other set of flights that I had experienced, our flight service manager from Newark to PHX looked just like Dolly Parton with her country talk and bouffant hair style, comedy was served up in place of a hot air-plane meal. That cabin manager wished us the fondest farewell and the most blessed day ahead, ensuring we looked after each other and everything would be fine. I was like, I need to get into this Southwest Airlines gig again! Southwest, an airline that serves every beverage with a natural smile, she rivals her low-cost Irish cousin, Ryanair. Michael O'Leary, these crew keep it cute, they look after their passengers and wish them the best! Bottle that up, implement it and fly! Thank you, SWA! 

I had landed in Las Vegas, baby! Now, that moment would not sink in even after my Southwest Airlines jet had already landed into Las Vegas's McCarran International Airport! That extra drink lasted me the whole damn flight but those Newark to Phoenix drinks hadn't been quite soaked up yet by the pizza! Disembarking my SWA jet, I was confronted by the noise and lights on the concourse at Vegas Airport! Those slot machines couldn't have been any closer enough from those arriving aircrafts, the jet bridges didn't even need to be any closer! It was insane! Tom & Paolo were still flying and little old me had made it to Las Vegas before them, their sureness hadn't paid off for them. I somehow made my way down to the lower baggage claim area, I checked which belts were dealing with Delta flights so I could be half aware. Finding a seat, I shamelessly dozed off into a boozed up nap whilst people continued to arrive. I did not care, I was in Las Vegas and for that reason I wanted to start big! It wasn't my EWR workplace! 

Upon my return flight back to Newark, had I gotten some feelings for Vegas? Maybe, I wanted to capture the last of that holiday spirit? Keeping this real as a reminder to my fellow passengers, I didn't make the best choices on the return flight via Phoenix to Newark. Throwing back a few tequila's in the airport bar at Las Vegas was fine, I boarded with a clear head and being a short hop over to Arizona, I was fine. I honestly didn't know what had gotten into me during that layover, the bar became my bestie with those tequila's being thrown back once again! I barely made my Newark flight, to my surprise the crew hadn't changed, had the aircraft changed also? I couldn't answer that question. That final flight, in my most honest of words, I didn't need that final drink before the crew member rightly gave me a cup of water. We live and we most certainly learn, each mixed drink in the air equates to the volume of a double. Of course, I still like an in-flight drink but I'll never be Southwest wasted again! Life lessons at 30,000 ft! Vegas! 

Baby, I Fly Southwest! 

Joseph Harrison


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