OK, I was "challenged" to write about this!
In the summer of 2001, flying was a lot less stressful than it is today. Perhaps it is the post-911 regulations or the mere fact that I'm getting older, but flying is a hassle. Oh well, it does allow you to get there quicker than driving! So it was about the summer of 2001 when Katie was off to fitness camp in La Jolla, California, a gorgeous city near San Diego.
Katie was pretty young then to be off to California by herself, so when "parent visitation" weekend approached, Rachel, Arthur, Camilo and I bought tickets on Southwest to go see her (and take a little vacation to La Jolla). So off we went.
Now I will also tell you that this was during the pre-gastric-bypass years, and I tipped the scales at about 400 pounds. So, I always carried an "extension" with me when I flew because the seat belts in the airplane would not go around me without an extender. And, Arthur was in the same boat. But since we had Rachel and Camilo with us, we placed them in the adjacent seats to us and lifted the fold-down arm between us so that we would "fit."
We arrived in San Diego and drove to La Jolla, had a wonderful visit with Katie, the scenery, the camp owners, and just had a marvelous time! Katie was in great shape, as they put them through a rigorous workout and diet routine. So we enjoyed the weekend, but it ended quickly, and we were homeward bound.
When we were getting our boarding passes at the Southwest ticket counter, the agent was a little (very-California-looking) snippy blonde girl who said to me, "Sir, you two will have to buy an extra seat each."
"Why? What are you talking about? I have purchased seats."
"Sir, anyone can look at you and tell that you will not fit into an eighteen inch airline seat." (I remember those words to this day, how they rolled so gently off her tongue and pierced my fat little heart.)
Anyone can look at me and tell that I won't fit into an eighteen inch airline seat??? Really???
What happened then was rich! My eyes began to pitch! I caller her a name that rhymes with "witch," which which which which which which caused her little gayboy counterpart at the counter to chime in and say, "look, she's not disrespecting you so don't disrespect her!" Are you kidding me? I thought it was the rudest thing anyone ever said to me. I still believe that to this day.
By the time the four of us were done with them, we received two extra tickets for free, along with priority boarding (so we got on first and got to choose our seats). We even asked other fat people if they had been asked to purchase extra tickets, but could find no one. It was just our lucky day.
I wrote a long letter to the President of Southwest Airlines which was never acknowledged. And for years, I didn't fly Southwest, choosing Continental (now United) instead, even if it meant paying more money.
I am flying to New York later this week, and yes, I bought tickets on United even though they cost more and I have to drive to Bush Airport (rather than Hobby which is very near to my home). I have, however, flown Southwest for short flights, but I will never forget the treatment I received from them as long as I live, even though I now fit easily into their seats.
And so when Sandra announced our new "blog contest," and the topic was "my most memorable Southwest experience," I warned her that Arthur and I will win with this story. The challenge is on. Bring on your most memorable Southwest experience.