Thursday, June 10, 2010

South by Southwest

I missed most of Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals last night. I was at the Denver Airport and managed to catch some of the second period while seated in a bar and the last six minutes of the third while standing outside it with a group of other folks waiting to board our flight. We missed the overtime of course, but from the highlights I've caught today there wasn't much to see. I'm glad that the Blackhawks won the Cup, but it's always a bit of a letdown when a deciding game ends on such a soft goal. And I would have loved to see the two teams meet again in Game Seven. Still, it was a entertaining Finals and lived up to the expectations I had going in.

The flight from Denver to Minneapolis was my first flight on Southwest. There were no Delta flights available at the time I needed and I wanted to see if Southwest lived up to their customer service hype. It's hard to judge on only flight, but my experience last night hardly wowed me. It didn't help that the flight was delayed fifty minutes so we could wait for twenty-one passengers from a connecting flight. Such situations strain your ability to empathize with your fellow man. Yes, if I was in the shoes of those passengers, I would want the airline to hold the flight for me too. But as a guy at the gate more than ready to get home, it was difficult not to harbor the selfish impulse to say "Screw 'em, let's go!"

The service from the Southwest gate agent and flight attendants was ordinary. They were a little more casual in dress and attitude than most airlines, but other than that not much different. And I'm not sure about whether I like Southwest's' free for all seating scheme either. It did make boarding a bit more orderly--especially the lining up--but whether it’s a superior method to assigning seats is hard to say. It certainly wasn't on our flight when the twenty-one connecting passengers finally arrived and had to go up and down the aisles hunting for free seats (the coveted middle seat is yours). I definitely would fly Southwest again if necessary, but last night's experience did nothing to sway me to choose them over other airlines.

If people are mad at BP for ruining the environment, they might want to ask Avis why they hate the earth so much. The last two times I've been out to Colorado on business, the rental car firm has given me honking SUVs to drive. By myself. The previous time, it was a Ford Explorer. On this trip, I was handed the keys to a Chevy Suburban which could comfortably seat fourteen. Needless to say, I had plenty of room for the only thing I brought with me; my backpack. I didn't request this type of vehicle and I didn't pay more than I would have for the intermediate car that I asked for. They must have a surplus of SUV which they're trying to make use of. I don't mind driving 'em, but for all that I use it for, a medium-sized car would better fit my vehicular needs.