Guest column by Andy Abramson (Bio follows article)
Here’s a satirical look at how Southwest has changed. It’s written to call out how much the experience has changed for a passenger of many years who has loved the airline since the 90s. It is not meant to be a political statement but instead to serve as a journalistic account of the real-life experience on my most recent flight. While the language is colorful, there’s no intent to be more than reflective of what I heard and saw, with no intention to be anything more than that.
Taking a short flight from LAS to SFO on SWA and I was amazed at how something that was so much fun and enjoyable for many years has become such a negative experience.
Waiting in line for my flight in the A boarding group, it was nice to hear the flight was going to only be half full. While I still did the upgrade to Business Select, listening to the pre board announcement was a lesson in negativity.
Literally more of the instructions, warnings, guidance was in the negative, don’t do, can’t bring, not permitted tone. Honestly I was waiting for the “and you can’t board if your a heterosexual business executive with a brain.”
Clearly whoever writes these announcements has no clue about how sentiment and suggestion – either consciously or unconsciously – sets the mood of the passengers.
Yes, long gone are the days of the happy, perky, youthful and energetic gate agents and flight attendants. Equally missing is all of the positive, excitement laced commentary of the flight attendants we heard just before takeoff.
While the crew shucks, jives and vibes with the pilots, it seems as soon as they enter the cabin area “the wicked witch of the west” or “Attila the Hun” seems to emerge. Those smiles evaporate like water in the Sahara at high noon.
A smile, once the signature of the airline is in the keeping with the obverse from the R and B group “The Undisputed Truth” where they sang, “a smile is just a frown turned upside down.” Well here on SWA the in flight crew are clearly not replicating the Amazon logo – a smile.
I swear the airline has invented the personality change machine as the laughter and smiles of the crew when they talk amongst themselves is upbeat – but interact with a passenger and it goes from locker room happy before a game to sitting in class at Catholic school as Sister Brunhilda walks around with the ruler looking for knuckles to wrap.
Oh and those designer gloves on the hands- so, so stylish – I want to barf. Not only are they grotesque and unsightly, but they inspire all the memories of my annual visit to the Doctor for a physical- something even they don’t enjoy doing, nor I.
Gone are the Rod Stewart inspired “A nod and a wink” when anyone is doing anything right who’s flying. Based on the instructions read aloud before take off everyone flying is an idiot. We are all first timers. We need to be told the basic as if we don’t know better – while I understand the need to explain things, I always wonder what they are always read without a hint of life, affection or care. It’s clear they are not reading for our benefit, but to avoid a fine from the FAA and firing by the airline.
Oh and if we don’t speak and translate Ebonics or understand Spanish inspired English we may not grasp the instructions.
Dare we question any improper English and you are well beyond being a criminal. You are now cast as more of an in flight terrorist, as asking a question is received and treated as bad as flashing a gun or knife. Maybe worse.
Honestly TSA agents may have finally moved up the ladder and passed the crews of Southwest in treating people right.
About Andy Abramson
Andy Abramson is CEO and founder of Comunicano, a full-service marketing communications agency specializing in technology and digital media. With over 40 years of experience in marketing and communications, Andy is a seasoned professional who understands the dynamic nature of the industry. Named Business Traveler of the Year in 2014 by Business Traveler Magazine, Andy has a remarkable travel background that spans over 50 countries. Beyond his professional achievements, Andy is an avid traveler, accomplished winemaker, and remote work leader. His extensive travels have exposed him to a wide array of cultures and flavors, reflected in his personal collection of wines from around the world, while that interest in wine has also led to the establishment of wineTOURia, a wine experience agency, that is all about “the wine roads less traveled.”