A Bit of Warmth - December 2012 travel blog


Our cruise on the good ship Epic is leaving from Miami on Saturday. You might wonder why we flew to Fort Lauderdale today, rather than to Miami. We will have to shuttle ourselves those last thirty miles, somewhat inconvenient. But we could come here from Midway Airport, rather than O'hare, and fly on beloved Southwest Airlines. Midway is a bit closer to our home and built on a smaller, more humane scale. More importantly, Southwest is an airline that still tries to treat us the way airlines did in the good old days. We can each take two 50 pound suitcases for free. There was no line to check in and even security moved quickly. The plane was so new that the flight attendants could not find the coffee pots at first. The sign on the wall said that the plane has wi-fi, but they had not figured that out yet either. Because Southwest values efficiency and tries to turn its planes around quickly, it does not assign seats. Twenty four hours before a flight, passengers check in online and are assigned to groups A,B, and C. Once onboard, passengers choose their seats on the spot and family groups do not struggle or pay extra fees to sit together unless they are in the final group. For $10 extra you can get assigned to the A group and guarantee the best choices will still be free. But we geezers are on a fixed income and weren't all that concerned about a two hour flight as long as we got onboard.

But yesterday at the sacred moment when I should have gone online and checked us in, I was so absorbed in packing, that I forgot all about it until three hours later. We ended up in group C. I was so mad at myself. Everyone forgets things now and again, but at my age I watch myself like a hawk and wonder if this sort of mistake is a sign that I am starting to lose it.

I can't speak to my mental state, but the flight turned out just fine. We found seats together in the back and the luggage bins had plenty of room for the carry-ons. People don't feel compelled to bring everything but the kitchen sink onboard on Southwest, because they check bags in for free. The luggage made it here along with us, something we no longer take for granted. The temperature is in the '70's, I'm wearing sandals, and all is well with the world.

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