up in the air


Fanboy name calling be damned, I love Southwest Airlines. Spending a few hours with them today is serving to reinforce that fact. Unless I have no other option, I’m committed to travel by air with them alone. I really love having my flights actually fly. There have been too many times that I’ve been stranded by other airlines, and when that happens to me, SWA is frequently the hero that finds a way to get me to my desired destination.

But that’s not what has made Southwest part of my brand identity. (Nor is it the bonus Bloody Mary that was just handed to me by the flight attendant.) The reason that i love them is this: free SkyMall catalogs! God bless Southwest for giving me a whole catalog dedicated to things that I don’t need. I mean, just look at this:

The coolest bracelet, ever.

Really? Someone is going to see that and think *Oh my gosh, that is exactly what I’ve been looking for to (a.) keep me from losing my phone (b.) finally get that job with the FBI (c.) hold my corsage at prom!*

Awesomeness aside, SkyMall isn’t the reason either. My connection with Southwest started long ago in South Texas.

Solo Longhorn, me at age 10

From the time I was 10 until I was 15, Southwest was my gateway to my dad. Every other weekend I would jump on a plane in Harlingen or San Antonio and fly to Dallas to visit him. Life had broken apart my family and placed hundreds of miles between us, but in just a couple of hours we would be together because of the magic of this little airborne carpool known as Southwest Airlines. After a few months of this travel routine, I became friends with the folks that worked the weekend shift at the gate. They knew me and took great care to make sure that I boarded early and got to where I needed to go. Gate to gate they were my surrogate parents. (Remember the good old days when you could go to the gate to meet your relatives/friends when they landed? I miss that.)

Friday nights and Sunday afternoons were spent with Southwest. As I grew older the trips to Dallas to see dad became less frequent. We grew apart in the way that teenagers and parents do. Soon it was just a trip every month or so. Then it became a Southwest free roadtrip in my beloved GMC Jimmy, but to this day whenever I walk into one of these orange and blue cabins I feel at home and excited for what awaits me at my destination. It’s silly to connect with a brand in such a way, but I can’t help it, it’s my reality. My name is Bryan Jones, and I am a Southwest Airlines fanboy.

I’m out of words now…

(A note of disclosure that I’m honored to add: This year Southwest has become a social engagement client of mine. My views about these folks have long been biased due to them being a part of my family, but you should know that I’m paid to help them shine, so take my words with a grain of salt.)


5 responses to “up in the air

  1. Flew SWA a ton myself. My Mom worked for them while their big call center was still here. Most entertaining seat belt and oxygen mask instructions ever.

    Actually interviewed in Dallas for a scholarship there with Southwest’s CEO, Herb Kelleher. Most fun, unassuming interview I’ve had, to this day.

  2. It’s so nice to have your blogging again. Part of why I feel such a connection to you are your family is not only the shared interest in tech and media but these spaces share the stories and images that make lovely personal connections.

    Growing up in AR and having a large part of my family in Houston I was a frequent passenger myself. I even got to fly in the Shamu plan a couple of times.

    They are a company that just gets “it” in so many ways. Glad you shared this. I missed your writing.

  3. Huge trip planned last month to head to Maui, Hawaii for a conference October 11-16. I had never been there before and had the pleasure of going with two girl friends for the ultimate girl trip. We were scheduled to fly with Delta Airlines there and back with a layover in DFW and LAX each way. Needless to say, it was the trip from HELL. We flew from Little Rock to DFW only to be trapped on a huge plane for 2 hours and 20 minutes. At that point they had to let people off the plane even though we were going to be leaving shortly. In the end, they made us all get off the plane, with our carry on luggage and then an hour later re-board with all our same carry on luggage. It was a disaster. Over 52 people missed their connecting flight to Hawaii out of LAX and we were treated with zero kindness and customer service from Delta Airlines once we arrived in LA to find we weren’t getting on a plane until 5pm the next day. We had to call and cancel our room in Maui and thankfully they did not charge us for this, but I am sure not eveyone was so lucky. We flew home on the red-eye back to LAX and from there back to DFW only to miss our flight to Little Rock on Delta once again. Every plane was over booked by 2 to 4 people and it was impossible for us to get home. We ended up having to fly to Memphis and rent a car there to drive to Little Rock. Once we arrived in Little Rock, there was no one working the baggage claim area at Delta. The only one with a person inside was South West Airlines. I have never had a more terrible experience in my life using Delta. South West has never caused these types of problems when using them in the past and I vow to never use anyone else unless I absolutely have to. Thank god for South West Airlines. Noone else compares.

  4. Another SWA fanboy ringing in on this. I’ve been a big fan since college when you could go to any local ATM machine, pay $10, and the ATM would print a “quicket” which was a standby pass on any Southwest flight. No airline security back in those days, you showed the gate attendant your quicket and on the plane you went.

    The other thing I like are the flight attendants and pilots. They know what separates LUV from the majors is that they aren’t just selling seats, they are selling fun.

    Good job Herb Kelleher!

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