I went on a quick two and a half day business trip to California last week. The first in a while. I took what I call the “Flying Bus”, a.k.a. Southwest Airlines. For the uninitiated, Southwest has no assigned seating. You get a boarding position and you pick your seat, as you get on the plane. It’s euphemistically called “Open Seating”. It reminds me of a bus.
You can tell, I’m not a fan of this arrangement. However, Southwest had the most convenient flight. And, at times, Southwest can have really good fares. In theory, at least in the beginning, the seating system was egalitarian. People who checked in quickest within 24 hours of the flight, got the best boarding positions. Things are more complex now, which factors frequent flyer status and a paid early boarding upgrade.
Clicking check-in, seconds after the start of the 24 hour boarding period, is the game. Sort of a competition, like bidding on eBay, but only in reverse. Seconds matter to get those coveted “A” spots. This process didn’t particularly enthrall me, since it’s one more thing I had to remember, preflight. Inevitably, I would forget to check-in early, earning me a dreaded “C” position. I actually paid $30 extra this time, just for early boarding. Even so, I only got an unimpressive B2.
Still, B2 was good enough to give me a pick of window or aisle, on the back half of the plane, and with adequate overhead carry-on space. Such is the game of optimized flying. I got a convenient aisle seat somewhere around row 15, as I recall. For a few seconds, I regretted the non-window decision as I noticed a glorious sunrise, two seats over. I quickly decided, that I had enough “sunrise at 25,000 feet” photos and made this picture instead.
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