Mini-Rumination: Now Boarding at Gate E-17, Southwest Airlines Flight 1943 to Auschwitz

We’ve all seen the sad, grainy films:  large numbers of people, mostly Jews, standing alongside rail lines, passively awaiting the prodding of Nazi guards who will force them onto cattle cars, their destination a concentration camp.  Just thinking about it is heartbreaking.

But think about it The Curmudgeon has, twice in the last week, while flying on Southwest Airlines.  Instead of giving people old-fashioned seat assignments, Southwest employs a helter-skelter, every-man-for-himself seating system in which it compels its passengers to muster around tall sign posts that denote assigned boarding areas.  Once there, passengers are asked to arrange themselves roughly according to their boarding area assignments.  Some passengers look frightened because Southwest’s random method of assigning boarding areas separates mothers and their children – sort of a “Sophie’s Choice” of air travel; others look anxious for a far more mundane reason:  fear of being consigned to the dreaded middle seat for a three-hour flight.

Flying Southwest is generally a better experience than flying other airlines, but the manner in which it boards its flights is appalling.  It’s a terrible way to start a happy trip, a terrible way to end a happy trip, and an awful reminder of something far, far more depressing than a lost suitcase.  Southwest should do better.

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