My Dad Is Flying Southwest, And I Need A Drink

My Dad Is Flying Southwest, And I Need A Drink

129

I sort of feel like I’m explaining life on earth to a martian here…

My dad is flying Southwest tomorrow for the first time.

There are a few things to understand about my dad, and about my relationship with him.

First of all, my dad isn’t very good with technology, and he got his first ever cell phone just over a year ago. It has been awesome to see him adapt, and despite his initial hesitation, he’s loving having a phone.

Every morning he sends me a Bitmoji when he wakes up…

Every night he sends me a Bitmoji when he goes to sleep…

And every evening he sends me a picture of his dinner. This is something I asked him to do when he first got his iPhone so he could practice taking and sending pictures, but it’s something he never stopped.

These texts from him are among the highlights of my day (and as you may have guessed, he hasn’t figured out how punctuation or the backspace on the iPhone works).

One more thing. I have a habit of taking care of every aspect of my parents’ travels, which is probably a bad habit in some ways. However, this is my area of expertise, and I realize that travel is stressful for others, so I’m trying to be helpful.

I try to book their flights, tell them exactly when to go to the airport and what to do when there, etc.

When my dad flies he always requests that I check him online, and then send the boarding pass to someone who can print it out and give it to him. That conversation usually starts about 24 hours out.

Today’s conversation was a bit different, because he’s flying Southwest, and this is his first time (and he doesn’t read my blog).

“Benny, do I have Pre-Check?”
“No, unfortunately not.”
“Oh… okay. Vhat seat am I in, Benny?”
“You don’t have an assigned seat, you’re flying Southwest.”
“Vhat?!?”
“Southwest doesn’t assign seats, you just pick any seat that’s available when you get on the plane.”
“Zhis makes no sense. I don’t understand?”
“Southwest doesn’t assign seats, they have open seating. There’s a boarding order, and then you board in that order.”
“So zhey will assign me zhe seat at zhe gate?”
“I will just send you the boarding pass, and it should make sense at the airport.”

An hour later he had the boarding pass printed for him, and called me back:

“Benny, I got zhe boarding pass, it says I am in seat A3.”
“No, that is your boarding position. On Southwest you have different boarding groups, and then even in each group there is a specific order in which you board.”
“But my boarding pass says I’m in 3A, Benny.”
“No, there are no assigned seats. When you get to the gate you should see a bunch of signs, and you go to the one that says ‘A,’ and then look for the section for A1 to A5. You’ll board after the person who is in position A2, and before the person in position A4.”

At this point I’m starting to realize that Southwest boarding is actually really complicated when you’re explaining it to someone who has never done it before. Not that other airlines have easier boarding process, but this is just so different, and he’s used to the other system.

“Vhat?”
“When you get to the A section just ask people to point you to where A3 should be, and you will figure it out.”
“But I am in seat 3A!”
“When you get to the gate just go up to the gate agent and ask them where you’re supposed to stand. Sorry I made this so complicated.”

At this point I feel like I need to tell my dad to vlog this trip. I guess I should have been asking for videos of his dinner rather than pictures of dinner this whole time…

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  1. Sung Gold

    This is when I lose my patience and I tell my mother:
    "Mom, don't do anything, I'm buying a ticket to fly to Brazil and I'll and bring you back with me on the same flight."

  2. Rosie Guest

    Wow!! what hilarious story!! I'm a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, I promise you if I was working your father's flight I would put him right down in that 3A.
    But that might confuse him all together as he would say see Benny
    I told you my seat was 3A..Ha

  3. Jennifer Eisenman Guest

    Oh l had to read this twice! So adorable l love everything about Southwest except their seating policy! In my world people with bags in the overhead compartments should exit the plane last because they hold up us passengers that check our bags!! I hope your screen shooting those texts! They are treasures!

  4. Dodd Guest

    Heartwarming article. You’ve managed to make your relationship with your dad seem so entertaining and relatable to us all.

    It felt like is was watching a TV episode. You should consider writing and pitching a script for a show or something. I’m living it. Made me feel warm inside. couldn't stop reading.

  5. Despina Guest

    We are considering flying Southwest for the first time in 2 decades and so I came here for tips and discovered this amazing post. Made my day! How did things work out for your dad? Is there a follow-up that I missed? Happy Holidays to all.

  6. Meredith Marlin Guest

    Lol! Loved this!!! Especially how he lets you know not only what he was having to eat for dinner but also that he "made" it to the restaurant!
    And those Bitmoji's morning and night. dying.

  7. Andy New Member

    Hi Lucky,
    could you please post an update as to how it all worked out for your dad. I pretty sure all was fine and maybe even fun for him. He is such a sweet guy.
    All the best, Andy

  8. xairboss Guest

    So funny. It was your blog about taking your dad on the surprise round-the-world trip that got me hooked on miles and points a few years ago. I still remember the photo of him with the Emirates FA hat on. Since then I’ve been around the world twice (mainly in First Class) and at 78 I’m planning my next one. Thanks Lucky.

  9. Sally Guest

    Love the interactions between you and your dad! It reminds me that I can and should do better at engaging with my parents more often. My dad is notorious for taking pictures up-side-down, which irks me to no end, but it's the little things that counts. :) Hope your dad had a smooth flight.

  10. Tom Oliver Guest

    Many forget (& more never knew) that WN began as a"Shuttle", hauling business(wo)men primarily , DAL (Love Field) - HOU (Hobby) & simultaneously/soon after?, SAT. Like the bus, you lined up & boarded. More folks than seats? Wait for the next flight. IIRC, usually $29.95 each way. Over the decades, the waiting line has been altered, & now we have A, B, & C. with numbers, but the retention of the scheme allowed more rapid...

    Many forget (& more never knew) that WN began as a"Shuttle", hauling business(wo)men primarily , DAL (Love Field) - HOU (Hobby) & simultaneously/soon after?, SAT. Like the bus, you lined up & boarded. More folks than seats? Wait for the next flight. IIRC, usually $29.95 each way. Over the decades, the waiting line has been altered, & now we have A, B, & C. with numbers, but the retention of the scheme allowed more rapid boarding, thus timely "turnaround" (one secret of profitable operation). Argument over which scheme is best goes on endlessly, & too many pax act nastily, selfishly, & in self-serving fashion. But then far too many people act in that fashion in every other venue. Let's face it. Passenger a/c & airlines are but buses with wings, & all the other BS is simply based on our personal (or corporate) willingness to pay more, so that some might imagine that some are better than the wee puir guy sitting back in 64F, when the beverage cart runs out before it makes it down the (single) aisle. Why, I recall a flight - no champagne or caviar - in a C130, seated on a canvas bench, McGuire (NJ), Gander, Goose Bay, Thule, Keflavik, Prestwick, Ftankfurt Rhein Maine, boarding & seating by Rank (as an ensign, I could sit close to the front where the 1 lav, coffee & water urns were located. I only appreciated the flight as I looked out the 1 window as we passed Cape Farewell at Greenland's Southern tip. The wind was high, the sea below was a'froth with white caps, & I could imagine making the voyage by ship, rolling her guts & mine out down there in the inhospitable N. Atlantic. A couple of years later, I made a similar voyage, East to West, in a small Navy ship, "haze grey & underway". Give we an airplane any day, even a flight boarding like a bus.

  11. Andrea Guest

    This reminds me of last year when my brother & I arranged for our 86 year old Grandma to take an Uber for the first time! We got a wonderful driver & gave him a big tip after he patiently waited outside her assisted living apartment (she was running late) asking every little old lady "Are you Darlene?"

  12. Marge Wilt Guest

    Tell him to get a wheelchair when checking in and all the confusion will go away

  13. DCK Guest

    I must be lucky as three of the times I've flown Southwest the person boarding directly in front of me has never flown the airline before. All three times the person has entered the plane, turned right, and then stopped not knowing what to do.

    I simply leaned forward and said "It's a bus." That has worked each time.

  14. Danangme Guest

    I'm 68 and just flew on South West for the first time and if you would have told him to pre check in no earlier than 24 hours before his flight, he might have been given a A-1 boarding pass. Maybe you should try to catch up

  15. Mark3 Guest

    Your dad is adorable, but we want an update on your mom.

  16. Sheila New Member

    Love your dad! I only fly SW for short hops to Las Vegas, but I have found that the way they board is faster and easier than trying to get through the mob rushing the gate. I was trying to board first class and could barely get through all the people! SW is surprisingly organized in their lines.

  17. schar Guest

    Your dad's texts made me tear up-thats very sweet.

    regarding Southwest, I flew it once, work arranged the flights for me, and I've never flown it again, and if it's up to me, never will. I'm glad it works for some, but it's NOT my cup of tea stye of airline.

  18. Anne k Member

    Paint me Nice Paul plus one!
    Simon, totally inappropriate!
    Ben! Love your dad! We do need updates!

  19. Ellen Guest

    Love this post! You're a very lucky son, Ben.
    I will try my darndest to never fly SW ever. The last time we flew, a couple of months ago, a woman with a teeny tiny "service dog" (with no identification on it) got on first. She put her purse, backpack, sweater and jacket on 4 other seats, which she held for family members who were in the very last boarding group. They waltzed on...

    Love this post! You're a very lucky son, Ben.
    I will try my darndest to never fly SW ever. The last time we flew, a couple of months ago, a woman with a teeny tiny "service dog" (with no identification on it) got on first. She put her purse, backpack, sweater and jacket on 4 other seats, which she held for family members who were in the very last boarding group. They waltzed on and sat in the first two rows. When we were confused and tried to move the things she placed there so that we could sit together she said that we couldn't use those seats as they were for her family members, and that she had a service dog. We see some version of this scenario more often than not on SW. We had paid for priority boarding, and ended up in the last rows of priority. BTW, we had A1 and A2 in line. Also, one can "self -identify" as needing early boarding. So there were a lot of those in front of us also.

  20. Marilyn Guest

    Love LUV, your Dad, your story...and the comments. Always fly Southwest. Have no problem with boarding system - boarding passes issued 24 hrs. before flight time - majority of passengers know how to line up in appropriate group number (and assist those unfamiliar with system) - also have pre boarding for those who pay extra, or need assistance and families. Plus, 2 free bags, not a lot of extra fees. Almost always fabulous crew. Thanks Southwest!

  21. Daniel Guest

    > Caroline wrote:
    > People will rush and push others to get to their favorite seats then

    It's not like that. You don't have an assigned seat, but you do have an assigned order. It would be a clearly rude faux pas to try to pass the order of the line once in the queue to get aboard the plane. And anyway the single aisle is so narrow that it wouldn't make sense to...

    > Caroline wrote:
    > People will rush and push others to get to their favorite seats then

    It's not like that. You don't have an assigned seat, but you do have an assigned order. It would be a clearly rude faux pas to try to pass the order of the line once in the queue to get aboard the plane. And anyway the single aisle is so narrow that it wouldn't make sense to even try to cut in. Generally speaking, most experienced SWA passengers have bought into the system and are willing to accept the seat that is the result of their boarding number. If they really care, they'll pay the extra $15 for a low number or at least try to get their boarding position at precisely the 24 hour mark prior to the flight.

  22. Chae' Guest

    I work for SWA and I was ROTFL...
    I hope We made his experience one a great one!

  23. glenn t Diamond

    Your dad should have his own sitcom! Can see it going over big in the NYC / Florida axis.

  24. Christine Guest

    I can't even tell you how much I am in tears reading this story. It's so hilarious! Seriously love your Dad. Cherish all of this. Cherish all his texts and the fact that he thinks of you. It's a beautiful thing.

  25. Will Guest

    I love Southwest and fly with them maybe 30 weeks each year.

    I'm usually surprised at the challenges people face when you ask them to line up in order according to a number they are holding in their hand.

  26. CaveDweller Guest

    tom
    Good post I fly SW as in old and have SP I'm sure he can handle travel .
    Just ask get there EARLY and be Nice .
    CHEERs

  27. Carla Edge Guest

    Love Southwest and hope your dad has a great experience and enjoys his flight. By the way, where’s he headed? Does he travel a lot? I would love to have a job like yours!

  28. tom Guest

    your bio says you travel 400,000 miles per year!

    that's over 7,600 miles per week -- hard to believe

    1. Tiffany OMAAT

      @ tom -- Welcome to OMAAT! It does indeed average out to about that much each week (though some weeks have more than others), and you can see examples of those itineraries here: https://onemileatatime.com/trip-report-index/

  29. JMT Guest

    This is the sweetest thing ever! Thanks for sharing.

  30. Katherine Guest

    You are so lucky to have a father that loves you so much and tells you every day and send you his dinner pictures. Embrace that love and cherish the time you have together.

  31. Mikey Guest

    I've never heard of such a boarding procedure before, certainly not here in the UK, very interesting. Out of interest, if they go to so much effort to allocating boarding positions, why not allocate seats and require people to board in seat row/number order in just the same way? Wouldn't that make life easier for everyone, and still involve the same amount of work behind the scenes in advance of boarding?

  32. Donny Peters Guest

    You made it complicated. Why didn't you explain it to him like he was taking a bus, or going to an old school movie theater? Possibly use the term general seating. Southwest system isn't confusing, it is just that they do not communicate their system in a way people can relate to, just like you did. Plus, if your dad has this much trouble he probably should not be flying alone.

  33. Tanya Moore Guest

    I love Southwest - no issues with boarding. I booked a ticket for my father recently on Jet Blue because it was the cheapest. Dad is 81 and ok with tech but likes me to book his tickets. He kept asking about wheelchair access to the plane, but neither he or his wife use a wheelchair. I think he just wanted to get on first. Anyhow, they made it to us and back home with no worries. Dad also likes Southwest - he hasn't had any problems with them.

  34. Rhoda Guest

    What a sweet posting. I am 68 and always fly SW. The FAs are always great and the seating process is quick! Hope your dad had a great flight experience! Keep smiling!

  35. Roberta Guest

    Adorable post! Reading this really makes me appreciate my dad and miss him more. (Passed about a year and a half ago)

    It's really special that you two have the relationship you do. I love that you both are thinking of each other all the time, evidenced by the daily morning and evening texts, emojis and pics.

    I would like to think you are the rule, not the exception to parent/child relationships. It's very...

    Adorable post! Reading this really makes me appreciate my dad and miss him more. (Passed about a year and a half ago)

    It's really special that you two have the relationship you do. I love that you both are thinking of each other all the time, evidenced by the daily morning and evening texts, emojis and pics.

    I would like to think you are the rule, not the exception to parent/child relationships. It's very clear your parents did an awesome job raising you and you honor them in return with your love, care and support. Well done!

  36. Cyndi Guest

    I love this post. Take good care of them when you still have them. I lost my parents at the age of 93 and I wish I had those frustrating moments trying to explain technology. You made my day, and I must say - I LOVE SOUTHWEST, which is saying a lot because I used to work for American Airlines.

  37. Noah Bowie Guest

    Two things.
    1 your dad has an excellent moustache
    2 A couple of years ago my mum flew Ryanair for the first time. That night I had a two hour phone call of her just complaining, followed by me going out and getting ridiculously drunk.

  38. Rob Guest

    I'm enjoying all of these posts about how "chaotic" the Southwest boarding process is. Perhaps 10 years ago (maybe more now?), when boarding positions were not pre-assigned within the lettered boarding groups, you might have had a point. Now, however, the boarding process is the complete opposite of chaos, especially when compared with the other domestic airlines. Nine boarding groups and a disorganized mass of humanity slowly packing in around the gate as each subsequent...

    I'm enjoying all of these posts about how "chaotic" the Southwest boarding process is. Perhaps 10 years ago (maybe more now?), when boarding positions were not pre-assigned within the lettered boarding groups, you might have had a point. Now, however, the boarding process is the complete opposite of chaos, especially when compared with the other domestic airlines. Nine boarding groups and a disorganized mass of humanity slowly packing in around the gate as each subsequent group is called? You all enjoy, I will take the orderly and fast SW boarding process any time. I recently flew Southwest one day and Delta the next, and the contrast could not have been more apparent.

  39. Erin Guest

    The first time I flew Southwest was before the boarding groups. Then, seating order was based on when you arrived at the airport only. Fortunately, I was also flying with friends. So, when I arrived 5 minutes before boarding, they let me cut in while they explained the process. I love the boarding process on Southwest, because I can sit near people who seem interesting. Hopefully everyone can sit near someone compatible, instead of just random people.

  40. Lewis67 New Member

    Lots of comments. Do we get an update post? Need to know the outcome. Did he enjoy the pretzels?

  41. Evan Guest

    How wonderful! My Mom is 86, but looks 70 and acts 40. She loves tracking my flights on her phone, searching Wikipedia for actors while watching old movies on TCM, following her grandchildren on Facebook, sending every appropriate emoji possible in texts, and just recently asked me, "Do you think I need to join Instagram?" :)

  42. David Hoffman Guest

    I understood the reasoning for the old New York City to Washington D.C. airline shuttle having no assigned seats, it really was an air bus set up, but on the whole I like being able to pick out my seat in advance. SWA's boarding groups have gotten ridiculously complicated over the years. What worked well as a intrastate airline is obviously no longer as appealing to interstate passengers, thus the multiple SWA boarding groups and...

    I understood the reasoning for the old New York City to Washington D.C. airline shuttle having no assigned seats, it really was an air bus set up, but on the whole I like being able to pick out my seat in advance. SWA's boarding groups have gotten ridiculously complicated over the years. What worked well as a intrastate airline is obviously no longer as appealing to interstate passengers, thus the multiple SWA boarding groups and special upgrades to different groups for various extra fees.

  43. Tom Oliver Guest

    The other side of the coin....
    Saturday, our 7 year old granddaughter is heading off on her own, unaccompanied, HOU>DAL & RTN. Already tech-savvy & with a dozen + accompanied flights under her belt, she's attempting unsuccessfully to convince her mother to simply drop her off at the security line, not to accompany her to the gate. Confidence, even misplaced confidence, is a grand thing, & I'm sure she'll give the FAs & seatmates...

    The other side of the coin....
    Saturday, our 7 year old granddaughter is heading off on her own, unaccompanied, HOU>DAL & RTN. Already tech-savvy & with a dozen + accompanied flights under her belt, she's attempting unsuccessfully to convince her mother to simply drop her off at the security line, not to accompany her to the gate. Confidence, even misplaced confidence, is a grand thing, & I'm sure she'll give the FAs & seatmates plenty of dialogue.

  44. Jeremy Guest

    My dad passed away unexpectedly in May. I have gone over every text message from him in the past ten years so many times I feel I have them memorized. Oh what I'd give for new ones. Cherish him while you can.

  45. ricport Guest

    My parents are in their 80s, and survived the Great Depression and escaped Communist Europe. They told me the last thing they want to endure in the few years they have left to travel is to put up with the chaos that is WN.

  46. Charlie Guest

    My sisters have given my Dad, now age 97, several cell phones over the last 15 years, and he's never used any of them. He keeps them on the table next to his land line. He hasn't flown since 2013 when he came here to bury my mother. When I put him on the plane to go home, the TSA lady directed him into the TSA Pre line. He, of course, has no idea what...

    My sisters have given my Dad, now age 97, several cell phones over the last 15 years, and he's never used any of them. He keeps them on the table next to his land line. He hasn't flown since 2013 when he came here to bury my mother. When I put him on the plane to go home, the TSA lady directed him into the TSA Pre line. He, of course, has no idea what TSA Pre even is. When he got halfway down the nearly empty TSA Pre line and saw that he was passing scores of people in the regular line, he got confused, came back, and told the TSA lady that she must have sent him down the wrong line. She told him that he should consider it an honor to use the TSA Pre line, so he shrugged his shoulders and went back down the line. He called me the next day and asked what that was all about. I'm glad it was US Airways and not Southwest. Not having a seat assignment would have totally confused him.

  47. Caroline Guest

    Ive never flown on Southwest and i cannot imagine not having an assigned seat which means it s like getting into a bus or a subway;People will rush and push others to get to their favorite seats then and old people or passengers who don't rush or push their way around will end up in the seats they dislike (like the middle seats or near the toiets)
    Not for me.

    I wonder if Ben's dad was happy on this flight .

  48. Fulmar Guest

    As an Aussie WN is my absolute favourite US domestic- but, yes, I understand the system and pay the US15 or so for pre-board.
    OK, a secret to disclose. I go to “Queen Vic” market in Melbourne and buy packs of little koalas with Aussie flags at US$3 for 12. FA comes around on the flight and I order a drink and hand over my credit card with a koala attached. “Thats for you”...

    As an Aussie WN is my absolute favourite US domestic- but, yes, I understand the system and pay the US15 or so for pre-board.
    OK, a secret to disclose. I go to “Queen Vic” market in Melbourne and buy packs of little koalas with Aussie flags at US$3 for 12. FA comes around on the flight and I order a drink and hand over my credit card with a koala attached. “Thats for you” I say and the card comes back undebited and after that every time the FA passes my seat a mini of gin magically appears- maybe a few other koalas get traded. And we have so many great conversations! Its called treating FA’s and for that matter any airline employee as a human being and rather than taking, giving. And they give back.

  49. Aaron Diamond

    Maybe you shud try explaining it to him in Gurmahn, so he kud understahnd in bettar, yah? Zis way maybee easier for the both of you, yah?

  50. SullyofDoha Gold

    Loved watching the two of you on your trip together that you posted to YouTube. Congratulations on taking such great care of your folks.

  51. Ryan Guest

    I would’ve just told them to board first and sit in seat 3A. Lol.

  52. Lisa Guest

    Oh my goodness ! I LOVED your story, thank you for sharing it with us. You paint a wonderful picture for this reader

  53. Marco TD Guest

    A1-A5 positions'?? it's so silly!!
    Easyjet and Ryanair give you a specific seat, even if you don't pay it. you can't choose your seat but you have one ...

  54. The nice Paul Guest

    @John

    +1. Publicly diagnosing mental health conditions after someone posts a couple of amusing anecdotes...? If he really is a physician, Simon needs to have a think about his professional obligations.

    If he was genuinely concerned, a private email would have been a better option.

  55. Jamieo Guest

    Benny? If you ever want to change from One Mile at a Time, I suggest Benny and The Jets

  56. Caroline Guest

    "Easyjet and Ryanair were largely inspired by SouthWest, but both of them abandoned unallocated seating after a few years"
    Yes you may pay extra to get a preferred assigned seat on EasyJet and Ryan Air.

    Cute story here: Ben is actually his dad 's dad when it comes to flying.

  57. Maraea Johnston Guest

    Great story Ben, l love your dad. Please keep us in the loop with more updates on your dad.

  58. warren Guest

    At least he can use a smartphone. My dad has trouble with a flip phone

  59. Jay New Member

    well at least now i know what the hell langugage "Schlappig" is :)

  60. John Guest

    @Simon - also a doctor and I find your comment totally inappropriate and out of line. Thank you for the post, Ben... your dad sounds like an awesome guy

  61. Duane Murdock Guest

    Bless his heart. Bet he had a good trip with a friendly person in seat by him. He sounds like he is a hoot.

  62. Malc Guest

    Always love your dad stories, ever since the great Emirates trip.

  63. Dianna Guest

    I'm a Flight Attendant with Southwest Airlines and I Absolutely Love, Love this story and all the great comments. I've lived this conversation for 25 years. Thanks for sharing.

  64. CoachellaValleyFinalSolution Guest

    He seems like a very sweet man. I hope he got a desirable seat and a pleasant seatmate.

  65. Dustin Guest

    This is so wholesome. I needed this. I wish my dad texted ☺️

  66. Kent Guest

    I am 84 and I love SWA. What is so hard about first come, first serve? I wish all airlines were as friendly, efficient, and reasonably priced as SWA. I only wished they flew to Montana

  67. David Guest

    So many positive comments on here. Lucky give us what we want!! We need more of your dad!! :D

  68. Snit Guest

    He will be one of the first on the plane so I'm sure the FA's will then say sit where ever you want!!That should make him feel really special!!I'm sure you had something to do with getting him that boarding position..Good for you

  69. Tom Guest

    Just tell him (regarding the seating arrangements) that "When you fly Southwest, it's just like getting on a bus. Take any seat you want that is open once you get on the plane." My eighty-something year old mother (may she now rest in peace) instantly understood the bus analogy.

  70. Simon Guest

    Clearly I’m in the minority because everyone else seems to find this adorable. I’m not a psychiatrist (though I am a physician) and my alarm bells are going off for things like OCD re: habitual dinner pic texting and maybe even something like Asperger syndrome given the striking inability to understand a different boarding concept.

    Not being negative. Just concerned, and hoping that the whole description is a caricature stretched too far.

  71. Josh Guest

    Ben, great story and I can relate, having a couple of aging parents. But having said that, you’re being pretty dramatic to say that Southwest’s boarding process is “really complicated”. It’s absolutely not complicated. It’s open seating, just like many busses, trolleys, and trains. You buy a ticket and hop on, anywhere there’s room. A is the first group on, followed by B and then C. And you board in numerical order within your letter....

    Ben, great story and I can relate, having a couple of aging parents. But having said that, you’re being pretty dramatic to say that Southwest’s boarding process is “really complicated”. It’s absolutely not complicated. It’s open seating, just like many busses, trolleys, and trains. You buy a ticket and hop on, anywhere there’s room. A is the first group on, followed by B and then C. And you board in numerical order within your letter. I think I just explained it in less than 30 seconds. And yes, even my 70 year old father “got it” after I explained it this way. So yes, very cute and relatable, but from one gay guy to another, dial back the drama. ;)

  72. Kevin Boulware Guest

    So cute. I love him.

  73. Dean Guest

    Oh my gosh, Ben....your Dad is adorable! Cherish these days (and texts) as they are fleeting! I miss my Dad so much.

    I fly Southwest Airlines all the time. As others have mentioned above, he's on a Business fare, which means he receives preferential boarding and even a complimentary alcoholic beverage! The only way he could board the plane sooner would be as a special assistance passenger which I often request for my 80 year...

    Oh my gosh, Ben....your Dad is adorable! Cherish these days (and texts) as they are fleeting! I miss my Dad so much.

    I fly Southwest Airlines all the time. As others have mentioned above, he's on a Business fare, which means he receives preferential boarding and even a complimentary alcoholic beverage! The only way he could board the plane sooner would be as a special assistance passenger which I often request for my 80 year old Mom. He'll get a charge out of the flight attendants who can sometimes be quite fun. He'll be just fine! Please post a follow up with some "z" comments please ;o-)

  74. Sue kaneh Guest

    Very funny and admirable how you handled your Dad’s dilemma with adjusting to utilizing technology. And figuring out the ambiguities of the rationale behind SWA open sitting policies. Looking on the bright side, he seems to be hanging in strong and not letting his frustrations have him throw in the towel. Wishing him brighter days in the quest to keep up with technology and it’s impact on today’s way of living.

  75. chasgoose Gold

    @Bagoly

    As eponymous coward notes, the SWA boarding method is by and large the fastest boarding method out there, and its still largely necessary to their business model, which prioritizes fast turnarounds. I imagine that EasyJet and Ryanair likely abandoned the unassigned seating policy when they decided to turn everything they possibly could that wasn't taking a passenger from point A to point B into a revenue stream, like other ULCCs.

    Southwest has moved...

    @Bagoly

    As eponymous coward notes, the SWA boarding method is by and large the fastest boarding method out there, and its still largely necessary to their business model, which prioritizes fast turnarounds. I imagine that EasyJet and Ryanair likely abandoned the unassigned seating policy when they decided to turn everything they possibly could that wasn't taking a passenger from point A to point B into a revenue stream, like other ULCCs.

    Southwest has moved into a weird niche pitched somewhere between the ULCCs where everything is unbundled (aside from seat assignments, Southwest tickets include more in their most basic ticket than all legacy carriers at this point) and the legacy carriers, which offer first class and standard awards/elite programs, but also offer Basic Economy tickets and charge many passengers change/baggage fees. The unassigned seating and the way it assists Southwest in turning around its planes faster than a typical airline, allows them to defray the costs of not unbundling other services. Also it helps that Southwest revenue management tends to benefit the leisure passengers who book way in advance that are its bread and butter more than business passengers that need to book closer in to their travel dates. If you are booking less than a month out, it's rare that Southwest will have a lower fare than legacy carriers on a similar route (aka same number of stops, flight timing/frequency, etc.), even comparing non-Basic Economy type fares to whatever Southwest is offering.

  76. Seattle Eric Member

    I love your dad!

  77. Donna Diamond

    Before today, the absolute worst food photo I’ve ever seen on OMAAT was the AA “lobster roll.” However, now I believe the Olive Garden Spaghetti and Meatballs, looking much like dog food loaded on top of over-cooked noodles is definitely in first place. Any self-respecting Italian would cringe at the sight of that abomination. Lucky, please rescue your Dad from the Olive Garden!

  78. Jim New Member

    This post is awesome!

  79. Amper Sands Guest

    @Lucky,

    Such a great post, love that you guide your parents into 'your world' which is clearly full of surprises!

    I'm sure they are grateful!

    Sounds like you have quite a few nicknames as well :)

  80. Rick Guest

    Funny story. Tell him not to waste time by printing a boarding pass, just get one from the kiosk upon check-in. Don't worry my father did6 know the difference between a Flat head and Phillips head screwdriver.

  81. Donna Guest

    Great blog. Thanks for sharing.
    I feel bad for your dad though.
    I cringe when I have to fly Southwest.
    And I have been hijacked (for lack of a better word) into flying with them for the last year.

    I think Southwest splits families and they make boarding a very stressful time during air travel. Sometimes children cannot even bear with their parents or families forced to sit in different parts of...

    Great blog. Thanks for sharing.
    I feel bad for your dad though.
    I cringe when I have to fly Southwest.
    And I have been hijacked (for lack of a better word) into flying with them for the last year.

    I think Southwest splits families and they make boarding a very stressful time during air travel. Sometimes children cannot even bear with their parents or families forced to sit in different parts of the plane. So much for a family travel experience.
    Southwest actually charged me for 10 airfares for my family of five. It’s been a year and I’m still trying to sort it out. They gave me a ton of their Luv Bucks, but I’d rather never fly them again.
    Live and learn and buyer beware.
    Less expensive isn’t always a better value.

  82. Tommy Boy Guest

    You gotta let us know how this goes for your dad. With A3 I think he will do just fine. Hope he gets some of the really cool Southwest FA's on his flight.

  83. Andrew Guest

    @Ken—A1-15 is reserved for Business Select passengers.

    This was such a heartwarming post.

  84. Jared Guest

    Wonderful to read this post. My father and I have a similar relationship except that he is much more capable with information technology between the two of us. I can strongly relate to the relationship between your father and you.

  85. VJ Guest

    Curious like @ken. How did your dad manage to get such a low boarding number. I sometimes book 6 months out, pay for early bird and still get a high boarding number.

  86. Lisa Goodman Guest

    Ben,
    I had a similar experience with my loving father except I put him on standby with Southwest so he could fly free! (My partner is a SW pilot). I almost paid a task rabbit to get in and walk him to his connecting gate. Thankfully the captain took to my father and hand delivered him to the next gate and he got on his flight but I was soo stressed that I pay...

    Ben,
    I had a similar experience with my loving father except I put him on standby with Southwest so he could fly free! (My partner is a SW pilot). I almost paid a task rabbit to get in and walk him to his connecting gate. Thankfully the captain took to my father and hand delivered him to the next gate and he got on his flight but I was soo stressed that I pay for all his flights now and get him an assigned seat. It pays for itself in my sanity!
    It was a joy reading your story. Best wishes to you and your dad.

  87. Sam Guest

    I feel like I should be able to sell my Southwest boarding position to the highest bidder, or any bidder for that matter. I need to offset my cash outflows by supplementing them with some good old ancillary revenue. I would even give the airline a cut of this if they asked me nicely.

  88. David Guest

    The posts where you reveal something personal are so lovely to read.

    It reminds me of the image of you and your mother watching the planes and bonding and healing following your brother’s death.

    I wish you well and good health to you and your family.

  89. nate Guest

    Now this is funny. I never flew on Southwest but I am very aware of their boarding method.

  90. Tim Guest

    Great post Lucky!

    Although as a very frequent traveler on AA, I’m not sure I could get used to lining up in advance. I much prefer the chaotic American boarding system, which for me is typically group 1 or 3. Never flown SW and done plan on it due to this boarding system.

  91. Dennis Guest

    Cute post! Please keep us updated!
    I fly a considerable amount, and I still get nervous when I need to fly SW lol

  92. Miles Member

    Even young people can be confused about Southwest's boarding system. Once I had A43, and was waiting at my assigned position when a gentleman in his 20s came up and stood beside me. He had C43. I gently noted that he might need to wait, but he assured me that they only went by the number...43.

    I saw no need to argue or explain. Several minutes later he must have figured it out, because he very quietly left the lineup and found a seat in the gate area.

  93. hbilbao Member

    @Benny, please keep us updated on his trip!

  94. Gene Diamond

    @ Ben -- This is hilarious!

  95. poppa flies Guest

    Oh my gosh! Love post. My dad is either all lower case or all caps depending on the day. I recently got him an exit row aisle seat and when the FA asked if he wanted to help in case of emergency he said heck no and was happy to be moved to a window seat. Smh!

  96. Jez New Member

    This was so heartwarming to read. Love it! With that boarding position, he can indeed sit in 3A ha!

    Good luck to him. PLEASE post updates.

  97. ANNETTE PACENTE Guest

    Buy him a go pro camera.sounds like it could be an excellent adventure.

  98. Sue WHITE Guest

    It's nice to know my husband and I aren't alone. We flew Southwest a year ago and didn't know where we were supposed to line up. Luckily people in line told us where to go. Experienced travelers can be and are very helpful to we senior, unexperienced travelers .

  99. Tennen Gold

    @Lucky, wait, isn’t WN a TSA Pre airline? Was it just chance that your dad didn’t get Pre on this trip? I’m assuming his KTN was on the reservation.

  100. derek Diamond

    One confusing thing that might be explained. Southwest does not use the normal system of counting. In real life, everyone else counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

    Southwest Airlines counts like this A1, A2, A3.....A35, THEN B1, B2....B35, then C1, C2, etc.

    Tell your father that is his number or boarding order. When you actually get on the plane, be prepared to punch and kick others to get a seat but, in reality, everyone...

    One confusing thing that might be explained. Southwest does not use the normal system of counting. In real life, everyone else counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

    Southwest Airlines counts like this A1, A2, A3.....A35, THEN B1, B2....B35, then C1, C2, etc.

    Tell your father that is his number or boarding order. When you actually get on the plane, be prepared to punch and kick others to get a seat but, in reality, everyone is nice, so you don't have to fight and bite to get a seat once you're on the plane.

  101. Bill Guest

    Sorry I am with your Dad on this one. I have never flown southwest and I can totally see how this would make zero sense to a first time passenger with them. So is group A the first group to board southwest? How many groups do they have? Doesn't this tend to cause conflicts with people travelling together who want to sit together? How much you want to bet your Dad gets on the plane and tries to sit in what he thinks is seat A3 even if its not the seat he wants.

  102. Ken Guest

    How did he manage to get such a low boarding number? I thought these were reserved for their super frequent flyers.

  103. Reed Guest

    Funny enough, I help my parents plan travel, but they almost exclusively fly Southwest (I’m based in Phoenix) and they are very used to the Southwest “style” of flying now. It throws them for a huge loop when they have to fly American or Alaska, and they can’t just pick any seat that’s open, or have to deal with confusing, unspecific boarding zones.

  104. Tracy Guest

    Fingers crossed for BenDad! At least Southwest staff tend to have a good sense of humor.

    My mom was scheduled to fly last summer for the first time in over 15 years. I was seriously considering seeing if I could get an escort pass. It would have been in everyone's best interest.

  105. David H Member

    Oh bless him! The way he is, reminds me of my own father.

  106. eponymous coward Guest

    @Bagoly:

    Actually, believe it or not, Southwest's boarding order is FASTER than other systems that generally go back to front or window to aisle.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/11/06/boarding_airplanes_northwestern_researcher_models_the_inefficiency_of_back.html

  107. Sam Guest

    aawwww. Das ist aber schön. The messages he sends you are tugging strings i never knew i had in my heart.

    And yes, we need an update on this flight.

  108. Claus Guest

    Thank you for sharing this story! It gave me a good smile and reminds me a lot of interactions with my own relatives :)

  109. Bill n DC Gold

    I'm with Ed, although I've never flown SW ;-)

    and Love to your Dad!! :-)

  110. Larry Member

    Hopefully, someone will be there to film the conversation that he ends up having with A2 if A2 takes seat 3A.

  111. Bagoly Guest

    Easyjet and Ryanair were largely inspired by SouthWest, but both of them abandoned unallocated seating after a few years.
    I guess that part of the reasoning was to be able to charge more for premium seats, but I got the impression that they also found it speeded up boarding because the 'plane is not waiting for (less experienced) passengers to make decisions (chaos takes time to resolve)

    Does anyone know what differences there were...

    Easyjet and Ryanair were largely inspired by SouthWest, but both of them abandoned unallocated seating after a few years.
    I guess that part of the reasoning was to be able to charge more for premium seats, but I got the impression that they also found it speeded up boarding because the 'plane is not waiting for (less experienced) passengers to make decisions (chaos takes time to resolve)

    Does anyone know what differences there were in SouthWest's analysis that they have never introduced assigned seating?
    Fewer really full flights?
    Reaching business maturity at an earlier stage in the internet revolution and they have not re-examined it?
    Other?

  112. Kai Guest

    It is so sweet that he sends you good morning and good night bitmojis every day. Adorable.

  113. DougG Guest

    Good old SWA. Seems like just yesterday when we lining up at the gate desk waiting to get our plastic paddles for boarding. Those were the days. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ha.

  114. Bryan Guest

    Ben,

    I can totally relate. My dad got his first mobile phone two years ago. He couldn’t figure out how to capitalize letters. All he knew is that if he hit space twice it placed a period and then the next letter would be auto-capitalized.

    I received plenty of messages that read something like “How is your day going. Bryan. Mom and. I just wanted to say hello.”

    Classic.

  115. NAUgrad05 Member

    I completely understand how you feel. I book travel for the county government agency that I work for, and had to explain Southwest's process to a coworker the other day. They were just as confused as your dad is! (Unbeknownst to me, this was their second flight EVER.) I had to write a new section in our "travel rules/info" just about Southwest.

    P.S. We need to see more of your dad on the blog! Hope your mom is doing well also.

  116. GetToThePoints Guest

    Yea, great story, I can relate. Please post a follow up with the actual experience at boarding and with the return trip. Hopefully he will be a well heeled veteran on the return.

  117. A Wang Guest

    Touched by your loving relationship with your dad❤️

  118. Erin Guest

    This is PRECIOUS!! I bet your Dad is an awesome guy! Can't wait to hear about his trip....and if he actually gets seat A3!!!

  119. Ed Diamond

    At least with boarding position A3 there’s a fair chance he’ll be able to sit in 3A

  120. Pete Diamond

    Hahaha awesome!
    What’s with the Vs and Zs?
    Does he type with an accent?

    1. Ben (Lucky) OMAAT

      @ Pete -- He has a very strong German accent. ;)

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Sung Gold

This is when I lose my patience and I tell my mother: "Mom, don't do anything, I'm buying a ticket to fly to Brazil and I'll and bring you back with me on the same flight."

1
Rosie Guest

Wow!! what hilarious story!! I'm a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, I promise you if I was working your father's flight I would put him right down in that 3A. But that might confuse him all together as he would say see Benny I told you my seat was 3A..Ha

0
Jennifer Eisenman Guest

Oh l had to read this twice! So adorable l love everything about Southwest except their seating policy! In my world people with bags in the overhead compartments should exit the plane last because they hold up us passengers that check our bags!! I hope your screen shooting those texts! They are treasures!

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