Traveling on Southwest in the year of COVID-19

We golf travelers love Southwest Airlines because our clubs fly free. But what’s it like flying the Transfarency carrier in this year of COVID-19?

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I just deplaned in Denver after a trip to Baltimore. I booked the flight (to visit my parents) because it was incredibly cheap: $100 roundtrip, on a ticket purchased during stay-at-home orders in Colorado. I had to postpone the trip once; had I waited yet another week, it probably would have cost $400.

 

However, there are a few bullet points that might encourage some to pay a little more to take a domestic golf trip right now.

HERE ARE PROS AND CONS OF TRAVELING ON SOUTHWEST IN THE YEAR OF COVID-19

PRO: Southwest is keeping middle seats open through at least November, so there is plenty of room for you and your stuff. This makes for a so much more enjoyable travel experience, I ask: Why not continue to keep middle seats open? Wouldn’t most of us pay 50 percent more for a flight that’s twice as enjoyable?

CON AND PRO: Masks were required inside both airports and on the planes. That’s an uncomfortably long stretch, unless you have a mask that’s maybe a little looser than others for when you’re just sitting and not moving. But the requirement is reassuring when it comes to what the scientists have learned about virus transmission.

CON: Southwest flight attendants didn’t care much when I quietly pointed out that the young man across the aisle from me was removing his mask every time they passed by.

PRO: The boarding process that once qualified as a cattle call has become humane. Passengers are not allowed to stand and crowd the boarding area, or even to line up until their group of 10 is called. And when your group of 10 is called, it’s clear sailing onto the plane. #letsnotgoback

PRO: Even with the civilized boarding process, flights somehow manage to leave on time.

CON: Some airports have reduced services. Inside security in Denver, I couldn’t fill my water bottle because fountains were off “for health reasons.” In Baltimore, fountains were open but most of the shops and a good number of the restaurants were closed. (Oddly, the MAC makeup kiosk was open, even though we must cover most of our faces.)

BEST OF ALL…

My favorite part of the trip was disembarking in Baltimore. Instead of everyone jumping up at the ‘ding,’ we sat in our seats and chilled until it was our turn to leave. It was so relaxing.

The flight attendants lauded our conduct; it was the best they’d seen, they said. The plane from Baltimore to Denver did not unload with such discipline; our aisles quickly filled.

Which made me wonder, why did we ever rush to jump off? Because other passengers did, and we didn’t want to be the chumps left behind?

Here’s hoping that, unlike the virus itself, some of the accommodations inspired by COVID-19 never go away. #letsnotgoback

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