“Walmart” of the sky

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It’s been a month since the last vacation. In the scheme of things that isn’t a whole lot of time, but I gotta say that taking a vacation once a month is kind of feeling nice. I wish it could happen again next month.

Anyway, I have flown two different airlines in roughly the last five weeks and it is interesting to see how they have handled (or are handling) the pandemic a year from it’s start. Yesterday’s trip was less fabulous than the first trip. Now, I have flown other airlines, but there are two that I fly that I have liked in the past and those are the two I tend to check first when looking for flights, Alaska and Southwest.

About a month ago, I was on Alaska. The plane are newer, and feel more spacious, even if they may not actually be. The crews were friendly but not overly friendly. The planes felt clean, given the current situation, and the flights were directly to the destination (going and returning). The service inside the cabin was good. Alaska served nearly their full complimentary menu, so a light snack and beverage of choice was available.

Yesterday, I flew on Southwest Airlines. Southwest took a direct flight to Phoenix and routed it through Denver. This notification came just four days after purchasing the tickets. So, a roughly three hour flight turned into an all day affair. I wasn’t real pleased about it, but what can you do once you have already purchased the tickets? The first leg of yesterday’s trip wasn’t too crowded. But the crew wasn’t very friendly and the plane didn’t feel all that clean. It probably was, but it likely also has something to do with the fact that Southwest’s fleet is aging. Also a surprise, the in-flight service. The voice over the intercom announced they would be service iced water and a snack.

That’s it. Essentially, you are getting “bread and water” for flying with us. They, of course, told us this was because of the “current situation in the world.”

The water was a plastic cup with ice and water in it. It wasn’t even bottled water! Wow! So, apparently it is safer to serve an open cup of water in the era of airborne viruses. Go figure!

I asked a buddy who works for Southwest about it, as I was a little taken aback for the lack of services considering the experience just a month prior on a different airline. His response, “Anything to save a buck. We’re basically the Walmart of the sky, so you can’t expect much.”

I guess that is probably about right. It was a cheap flight. The second flight was much more crowded, the “empty middle seat” for social distancing was not a thing on this flight, and the plane didn’t feel any cleaner than the first one.

All in all, it was just a flight to a destination but I have come to expect a little more than what we got yesterday, even for a discount airline.

Am I spoiled or have they set us up to expect more? I am not sure.

Without notification

airline flight schedules on flat screen televisions

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Someone left town to visit family this weekend. Flying in these times is a rather curious endeavor now and there was already anticipation that some flexibility would be needed. The thought was that returning home might end up being a problem (that still remains to be seen). So…

Night before flight, 11:23pm: Flight is on time for an 8:00am departure.

Morning of flight, 4:11a.m: Flight cancelled and booked to another flight at 10:21am.

If I hadn’t checked of my own volition, the change would not have been known until arriving at the airport.

Did you catch that, “of my own volition”?

That’s right. Not a single notification from the airline that the flight details had changed. No text. No email. No call. That last one I didn’t really expect, but not even an email? Is that how they handle flight changes now?

Really disappointed in Alaska Airlines.

Granted, for the first leg of the trip the flight is not on their actual airline, but the trip was booked through them and they are the “confirmation number issuer” so you would think they were the ones responsible for notification.

I have always liked flying with them. They take pretty good care of you and they fly to most places I want to go for a fair price (most of the time). But, this taints the relationship a little. She luster is now gone. Oh, I’ll still probably fly with them but there is a little love lost now.

I may have a wandering eye, checking out the other options available. Fair warning Alaska, fair warning.