Costa Magica - December 2006 travel blog

It's always a pleasure to fly out of Midway rather than O'hare. The smaller scale makes the entire "cattle herding" experience considerably less painful. Southwest Airlines is the dominant carrier at Midway. They have been posting higher profits than the other legacy airlines in these painful post 9/11 era. However, their boarding procedures leave a lot to be desired.

Southwest does not assign you to a seat; rather it assigns you to a group. It used to be that you had to get to the airport early to get in group A and have a reasonable expectation that your party could sit together with your luggage in your overhead compartment. Perhaps all those folks sitting around with their "A" boarding passes in their hands clogging up the airport. lead to a small change. Currently 24 hours before your flight leaves, you can go online and check in and print your boarding pass at home. We are not sure we will be able to do this when we return home since we don't travel with a printer. I suspect not too many folks do... We are traveling during low season and Ken is always hopeful that the plane will be empty. However, when I got online and checked us in 22 hours before our flight, Ken got an "A" pass and I got a "B." Not a good sign.

At the airport about 45 minutes before our flight was to leave, people began lining up in the A, B, and C queues. The official getting-in-line area was about ten feet long, so lines snaked around the seats and waste baskets and people eyed one another wondering if they had butted in. No one could tell where line B ended and line C started. Inevitably the C people were annoyed because no one had told them they should check in online. An elderly couple stood in the A line for about half and hour before they realized that they were C's. Then a delay announcement was made. Someone had left the ignition switch on overnight and our plane had a dead battery. We sighed and stood in line some more. Once boarding commenced people wandered up and down the aisles looking for the best spot for their group and their luggage. It took forever. Although our flight was totally full, Ken was able to save me a good seat and things were copasetic once again.

When we hit the warm moist air of Ft. Lauderdale, our clogged sinuses began to unclog and our dry skin soaked up the moisture. It was time to undo the damage that two weeks at home in single digit temperatures had done to our bodies and souls. It's going to be a great week!

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