Suffice it to say we’re experienced air travelers.
The job we have shooting videos for dentists and orthodontists around the country (our real jobs) keeps us hopping around the country pretty regularly. Just about every other week we’ll be flying into Atlanta, or San Diego, or Chicago, or Baltimore, or some other corner of the country. And we love it. And we hate it. But mostly, we love it.
We fly Southwest pretty much anywhere we go, for a variety of reasons: the airfares are cheaper, they don’t charge for all our equipment (which saves us about $300 on every trip), they’re as reliable as anybody out there, and they make it super easy to book our flights, change our flights, or cancel our flights anytime we need to. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that – because we fly with them so much - we’re “A-List” travelers, so we get the hook-up on early boarding and we get to cruise through that “premium passengers” lane at airport security (and yes, we see you sneering at us as we walk past).
There’s plenty not to like about Southwest, of course. They are the equivalent of ”yellow school buses in the sky.” They herd everyone around like cattle. They beat our luggage to death. The on-board wi-fi never, ever works. And they keep finding new and innovative ways to deprive us of our precious legroom. (Sat in the new “Evolve” configuration yet? Sheesh. Makes our knees hurt just thinking about it.) And yet, we still consider ourselves loyal customers. Probably because every time we try to venture away from Southwest and fly with someone else it’s a much, much, much worse experience. What does that tell you?
All things considered though, air travel is pretty much what you make of it. It’s frustrating as hell from start to finish… but if you focus on the negatives you’ll drive yourself out of your mind, especially if you fly Southwest. That’s why we look for – and have found – a couple things about air travel that make the experience oh-so-much better. Here’s the skinny:
- Exit row seating is where it’s at. Okay, no surprise here, really. The exit row seats are arguably the most coveted seats on any plane ride, so it still baffles (and delights) us when we see so many people clamor to find seats at the very front of the plane, especially on longer flights. Sure you’ll get off the plane faster, but once you get down to baggage claim you’re still gonna be standing around waiting with the rest of us for what seems like an eternity to get your stuff. So if you’re not in a big hurry to get the hell off the plane, the spaciousness and relative comfort of the exit row is like a little slice of Shangri-La at 34-thousand feet.
On Southwest though the exit row configuration is a bit different from many others. They not only have those spacious 3-seats in rows on either side of the plane, they also have two seats together – the only place on the plane you’ll find only two seats together – on one side of the plane. We’re a couple, obviously. We travel together, and truthfully we’re pretty anti-social once we get on a plane (because we’re usually working, editing video on the fly so to speak). So as soon as we get on board we make a bee-line for those precious two seats. Most of the time they’re available, again because we get to board early and most people choose to sit up front. So it usually works out in our favor and makes us really, really happy. Occasionally we’ll board only to find someone has already grabbed those seats, and we of course can’t blame them for doing so. (Just don’t blame us when we growl at you as we walk past. Sorry. Just our natural response.)
- Then there’s our secret food/drink combo. It’s the other little slice of joy we’ve found flying Southwest, and is available to anyone over 21 with five bucks or a drink coupon to spare. Southwest, of course, is a no-frills airline. And nowhere is that more evident than the on-board snack service. It’s gotten somewhat better over the years, but it still consists mainly of peanuts (honey roasted if you’re really lucky) and a tiny bag of some variety of bland crackers. Lately though they began offering small bags of “Cheese Nips.” And that’s how we came across this marvelous discovery.
Have no doubt or illusion: the finest snack combination on Southwest (and possibly any other airline) is a bag of Cheese Nips and a blood mary. Ohmygawd. So good.
It sounds a bit, well, strange to be sure. But trust us. It’s dee-lish. Two great tastes that taste great together, as they say. At least on an airplane. We honestly haven’t tried them together on the ground, simply because we don’t want to do anything to take away from the experience in the air. But next time you fly, you gotta give it a shot. And if you do, a couple of tips: ask the flight attendant to mix the drink yourself, so you’ll get the actual bottle of vodka and the can of mix; and be sure to take along your own Cheese Nips. Yes, you may get lucky and get Cheese Nips on the plane, but it’s never a guarantee. And if you do get them on the plane, we’ve found they’re not nearly as cheesy and tasty as the ones you buy in the store. Don’t know why that is, but it is. So best to plan ahead.
There’s lots more we could talk about when it comes to air travel obviously, and we’ll no doubt get to all that stuff sooner or later. But we just flew back from Buffalo to Austin (through Orlando, naturally… thanks Southwest) and we were half-way into our bloodies and cheezies, savoring every taste, when we decided we needed to share the experience with everyone. So there you have it.
We’ll be flying again next week on our way out to DC (with a stop in Nashville for a few days) for the Best of the Road Rally. Then we’ll get a welcome break from air travel for at least a month as we drive across country on what’s sure to be an amazing adventure. But if you see us on the plane sometime, be sure to say hello! We may even buy you a bloody mary and give you an extra pack of Cheese Nips (which we carry in case of emergency).
Just don’t go sitting in our exit row seats. :)