Southwest Airlines Instrument Review - 2019
It seems like musicians are having airline troubles more and more these days. I'm on a mission to help people who are always on the move and flying with their instruments so they make an educated decision when they purchase their next flight ticket somewhere.
To make my airline reviews simple, I created 6 categories:
- Check-In Process
- Social Media Response
- Boarding Process
- Overhead Bin Space
- Flight Quality
- On Time Arrival
I think that these 6 things are important to every musician traveling. I'll be using a 5-star system in each category and then average the score towards the end. Let's get right to it!
Check-In Process - 5/5
The check-in process on Southwest was good. I tried checking in and retrieving my boarding pass on the mobile app but it looked there might have been a glitch on my end. Nonetheless, it was fine. I was able to get my boarding pass at the airport. What I'm impressed with is the complimentary check-in bag with each ticket. With airline check-in bag fees going up, it's refreshing to see that an airline is treating their customers well. This is also important because other customers who are checking in their bags for free means that there is more space in the overhead bins.
Social Media Response - 4/5
Musicians use social media all the time to spread the word about everything. I thought if I were heading to a gig and a flight gets canceled, or a worker at the front desk is giving me a hard time for not allowing my instrument on board the aircraft, what would be the quickest way to get a hold of management? Twitter was the first thing that came to mind. Luckily I didn't have any problems with the flight so I didn't have anything negative to tweet at Southwest Airlines. But if I did, how quick would they respond in that very moment?
I was happy to see that Southwest replied to my tweet. If I were to get picky though, I thought the response rate could have been faster. If I was having trouble and needed help right away then a quicker response would've been helpful.
Boarding Process 4/5
Out of all the airlines I've flown in the US, Southwest has the most unique boarding process I've seen to date. Each boarding pass gets a boarding section and a number. The employee near the gate door announces boarding groups A and shows 1-30 on the screen. There are silver pillars that have numbers on both sides depending on the number you have and they go in 5 number increments. You would go to the side that displays the group letter and stand in the section where your number is. In this case, I was in boarding section B and number 43. I was pleasantly surprised by how efficient it was. Everybody was standing in a single file line and walked straight onto the plane.
However, the one thing that could make or break a cellist from buying a ticket on Southwest is that there is no assigned seating. Some musicians like to bring their cellos on board having the guarantee of having a seat assigned to it. The flipside is that for a small fee you can do early boarding and choose your seats. But, a cellist could have a delay on another connecting flight and will barely make their connection. If the connecting flight is fully booked flight, then you're in trouble.
Overhead Bin Space 5/5
No complaints here. Because of Southwest's awesome free 1st checked bag policy, the overhead bins were free. Here's a picture of the amount of room I had after the plane landed at my destination.
Flight Quality 5/5
For my first Southwest Airlines flight, I was pleased to be greeted on board by a friendly flight attendant. A nice smile and friendly customer service. As the plane reached cruising altitude the flight attendants started taking orders for drinks and provided us with snacks. It made me smile that their snack was a plane-shaped cracker.
I appreciated the attention to detail. Good job, Southwest!
A common trend in the aviation industry is that airlines are no longer putting screens in front passengers. Instead, airlines are offering passengers WiFi access to their library of TV shows and movies. Southwest even had live tv. I was impressed by how fast the live tv started playing on my device. This section easily gets a 5/5.
Lastly, the flight was smooth as butter. I'll admit that the plane is a little on the older side because of how loud it was in the cabin. If you're trying to sleep on Southwest flights, I don't recommend it unless you have earplugs or headphones in to consume your media.
The seats were comfortable and had plenty of leg room. If you're an oboe or clarinet player it's easy to put your instrument under the seat in front of you.
On-Time Departure/Arrival - 5/5
Again, no complaints here. The plane left the gate on time and landed on time. Exactly what a musician needs when they're in route to and from a gig.
Tallying up Southwest's score....drumroll, please!
I hope this review is helpful for all instrumentalists out there looking for a painless way to fly. Comment below and share on Facebook or Twitter (@ericmrugala)