Monday, April 23, 2012

Please pretend to pay attention

I know some business travelers who try to avoid Southwest Airlines:  Some don't like not knowing what seat they will have on a flight.  Others habitually fly in business class and don't like the democratization of seating on Southwest.  But, to me, the sense of humor and warmth displayed by the gate agents, pilots and flight attendants always make it a pleasant experience.  And, how often do you finish a flight on another airline saying, "That was a pleasant experience"?

What I really like is how the flight attendants intersperse humor into the standard announcements.  They get a laugh, but they also cause you to actually listen to those important matters.  Safety experts will tell you that the routine repetition of safety procedures can lead to complacency, something to be avoided.  So there is method to the SW madness.  Today, Vanessa started by saying, "Please pay attention -- or pretend to pay attention -- to these important safety instructions."

"In the event of a loss of pressure, put your oxygen mask over your big nose.  Place your mask on first if you are traveling with small children or with anyone behaving like a small child."

"The flight attendants will be coming down the aisle to ensure that your shoes match your attire."

But then, an unexpected laugh, when Vanessa announced that some old version of Southwest's free drink coupons that have no expiration date were no longer valid.  I pointed out the contradiction to her, and she giggled, saying, "I didn't even realize what I was saying!"


Anonymous said...

Paul, completely agree about routine repetition leading to complacency.

I am one of those business travelers who hate flying Southwest and it's a few main reasons:
1. No upgrade perks for being a frequent flyer
2. Not listed on airline search aggregators (making it harder to book them)
3. No international travel locations (this particularly matters for award tickets)
4. No re-booking on other legacy carriers when flights are cancelled/delayed/overbooked
5. No red-eyes. Who wants to waste daylight on a plane?
6. Seems like I always have to connect.

Anonymous said...

My favorite SW story happened on a cross country flight; flying over Arizona -- the pilot piped in saying "if you look out the left side of the plane you can see the Grand Canyon" -- allowing just enough time, he comes back on saying "Whoa, whoa, whoa -- not everyone look at the same time ... it makes the plane tip." It was hilarious

Sue said...

I love the SW annoucements!
After nightmarish trips on other carriers, my motto is "If Southwest doesn't fly there, I don't go there". But to the first writer, it would be nice to see expanded routes.
My "Whoa" story: preparing to land with an incredible tailwind, passengers were quiet, and clutching armrests. With that same perfect comedic timing, an instant after an expert touchdown, the pilot hollered "Whoa doggies!" He knew what we'd been thinking.