Monday, July 10, 2017

Southwest Airlines June 2017

Southwest Airlines Review

Ok, so with the catastrophe of Spirit Airlines and the not-so-bad flight on Silver Airways, we now try one more airline to from Tampa to West Palm Beach/Delray Beach, Southwest Airlines.  A new, reinvented, and a whole new experience of customer service airline.  I would say this is not your typical airline like all the other commercial airlines.  Their approach to flying is a little different.

Southwest Airlines notes that they are dedicated to the "highest quality of Customer Service with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit."  I must stay that this statement is true, amongst some of the other airlines I have experienced.  Like Jet Blue, the employees of Southwest Airlines go out of their way for their customers.  I witnessed Southwest Employees assisting many handicapped individuals with their carry on's and small luggage onto the plane, a very rare occurrence that I have seen.  

When I first got through airport security, I did not have to wait too long for the plane to board passengers.  However, Southwest does not allow you to pick your seat on the plane.  You have to wait on line, in your numbered row, to be called.  Now to me, this is a little silly.  I asked one of the flight attendants why they do this.  They stated that it makes it easier for passengers to board the plane quicker by letting them pick their own seats.   Southwest believes that this is a quick, easy, and efficient boarding process. Its called "Upgraded Boarding" and you pay $30 to $40 each way depending on the destination which gets you in the A1 - A15 boarding group. How this works is when you arrive at the airport and you are ready to board the plane, you look at your boarding pass to find your assigned boarding group (A, B, or C) and boarding position (1 - 60). When your group is called, you stand by the column with your number on it until it’s your turn to board.  You do have the option to purchase this "Upgraded Boarding" before purchasing your ticket online with Southwest. Not too bad as the other airlines, for instance, Delta, who charge anywhere from $22 to $75 for an upgraded seat.  I did opt for this as I wanted to get the full experience. 

Now boarded on the plane, I get a pretty good front row seat, aisle of course!  Now looking inside and around the plane, it is very clean and roomy.  I really like the HEART symbol (aka "LUV") on the plane.  What's LUV you say?  As Southwest stated: "Southwest has been in LUV with our Customers from the very beginning. Therefore, it's fitting that we began service to San Antonio and Houston from Love Field in Dallas on June 18, 1971. As our Company and Customers grew, our LUV grew too! With the prettiest Flight Attendants serving "Love Bites" on our planes, and determined Employees issuing tickets from our "Love Machines," we changed the face of the airline industry throughout the 1970s. Then in 1977, our stock was listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "LUV." Over the ensuing years, our LUV has spread from coast to coast and border to border thanks to our hardworking Employees and their LUV for Customer Service."

In addition, Southwest is the only major U.S. airline to offer bags fly free® to everyone (first and second checked pieces of luggage, no change fees, and the in-flight entertainment portal* featuring a flight tracker, arrival and connecting gate information, games, and access to® at no charge! You can also enjoy free live TV, on-demand TV, movies, web browsing (with paid WiFi access) and messaging during your flight. You just download the app on the website from you phone and you are ready to go!  I love it!

They also offer drinks and snacks such as soda and pretzels, but do offer other drinks and snacks at a price.

So on the way both to PBI and back to Tampa was very smooth and fast!  We were there and back in less than an hour and we were on time both times.  Great flight and nice people.  Was not bad at all!

OVERALL: I liked it so much that I booked my trip to New York on Southwest.... BONUS!  I would definitely recommend taking them whether for a short trip or a long one.  They are just like Jet Blue and the service is great!  

Please feel free to comment as I would love to hear from you.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Silver Airways Review 2017

Silver Airways Review

In May 2017, I went to go see my mother in West Palm Beach. I really didn’t want to drive 3 ½ hours from Tampa, so I researched some alternative ways of transportation. I could have taken an Amtrak train, but it would still take just as long, if not more expensive to take it. So, I went and researched airlines. The first trip I took was on Spirit Airlines… which, as my followers on Facebook came to realize, that was the worst airline ever to fly. Don’t worry folks…. I won’t be sending ANYONE I know or any of my clients on that airline no matter how cheap it is!

Next airline available is Silver Airways. This is an interesting company which started operations in 2011 with the purchase of only 6 SAAB 340B+ aircraft. It was originally Gulfstream International Airlines but when they went bankrupt in 2010, Victory Park Capital bought the company along with 21 Gulfstream Beechcraft 1900D aircraft (mostly used for regional travel or hauling cargo). Over the next several years, the company has grown to 23 Saab 340B+ aircrafts and flies to over 28 destinations. The longest you would ever be on one of their flights would be 2 hours.

Passengers with special needs should read their policy before booking their flights as it might be difficult to fly their airline:

Seating also may be an issue for those who would not fit into a 30 pitch/18.5 width seat. It can be quite uncomfortable and you would not be allowed to fly due to weight/balance requirements.


Here is the Contract of Carriage:

However, there is no legal weight limit for passengers on U.S. commercial flights but some airlines ask customers who cannot fit into one seat to book two. It says if a passenger cannot lower the armrests on one set they must buy another - whatever they weigh. Safety regulations from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandate that passengers must be able to lower their armrests and sufficiently buckle and fasten their seat belts. However, the average seat width for a domestic economy flight ranges from 17 to 19 inches between the armrests. So what happens when you can’t fit in the seat? According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), airlines are not required by law to provide additional seating or an upgrade in the event additional space is required for a passenger.

Leaving from Tampa International Airport was a breeze, as I didn’t have to check a bag and my personal carryon items are free of charge. Bonus! However, in finding out from other passengers, if you were trying to check in a bag (Fee is $30, etc.), there was no one at the ticket counter. Even if they called someone, no one came. Can you imagine trying to get thru the security check point with that? In addition, Silver Airways does not participate in the TSA Pre check program so you would have to wait on the long line to get thru security. They do, however, participate with Jet Blue & Frontier Airlines reward points so that is a bonus!

Got thru security with no problem and went down to Gate A1. This gate is near the tarmac and in order to board the plane, you have to walk on the tarmac to get to it and walk up very tiny stairs to board the plane. The inside of the plane had two long rows of seats on the left and one row on the right and one long row in the back of 4 seats (exactly 34 seats). I had chosen my seats (2D – Front row left aisle seat) before printing my boarding pass but it seemed that Silver Airways gave my seat to 2 other people! These seats are very small. Honestly, it really didn’t matter as people had to move to different seats so that the plane could be evenly balanced when taking off and landing. Little did we know! I found out pretty quick when we were taking off as you can feel the plane “fish tailing.” Pretty nerve-racking for the queasy but cool for the roller coaster riders!

The plane ride was only 50 minutes and they gave you a very small bottle of water to tide you over.

Landing in West Palm Beach, even though the weather was great, the pilot was all over the place! Got me queasy and was praying for a landing! I promised myself that I would never fly in the front again because of the “fish-tailing,” the disgusting smell coming from the bathroom, and the noise from the propellers (on a scale from 1-10) was a 7.

On the way back from West Palm Beach, again, no one was at the ticket counter.  As I went thru security, I asked them “what would happen if no one came to check the bag?”  The security officer stated that she would not know what I could do.  Kind of odd don’t you think?  If I had a regular weight or oversized bag, would it go thru security screening and therefore allow me to take it with me since I probably would have items over the 3.5 oz limit???  I am surprised they could not answer it.  I am assuming that you would go thru security, notify security that you were taking Silver Airways and no one was at the ticket counter, and they would hopefully let you thru.  I bet you would need to plan to be there for an extra hour no? LOL!

Now boarding the plane, I purposefully switched my seat to 12C so that way I can see if my experience flying again could be lessened by sitting in the back of the plane as opposed to the front.  In addition, I wanted to save myself from the retched stench of the bathroom, hopefully less fish-tailing, and eliminate the nausea I experienced from my last flight coming into West Palm Beach.  I took my seat in the back of the plane on the right (one row) and had a window.  Perfect!  Comfortable and relaxing.  Noise level in this location was a 2 and no smell from the bathroom or nausea.  However, it was a little rough coming in for the landing, some fishtailing, but we were prepped ahead of time by the Captain. 

As I was getting off the plane and the last one off, the 1st officer helped me with my bags!  So sweet and I thanked Captain Kaleb for the smooth ride and nice landing!  I was clapping!!

OVERALL: So, for the price it was worth it.  Keep in mind that this is not for the weary or queasy so make sure this is the airline you want to fly. 

Please feel free to comment as I would love to hear from you.

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