I Liked Chad the Pilot
IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME since I’ve flown on Southwest Airlines. Their schedules and ours just never seemed to coincide. When we wanted to go to Florida they wanted us to go to Phoenix. When we wanted to go to Phoenix they had a nifty plane ready to whisk us off to sunny Anchorage. I couldn’t tell if they didn’t really want us or if they were just playing hard to get. Those little teasers.
Then, out of the clear blue of the western sky all of the pieces fell into place. We wanted to go to Texas and Southwest said, “OK, just once, but don’t think this means we’re easy. We’re not that kind of airline.”
From the outside our plane looked like any other Boeing 737 – two wings, one tail, an In-flight magazine with the crossword puzzle already done. Nothing special.
Y’know, I sort of miss that expensive junk catalog that was always in the seat pocket on planes. A chance for you to buy overpriced electronics and grotesque garden gnomes – trash you wouldn’t buy on the ground now offered at 30,000 ft. Maybe they thought being in a pressurized cabin enhanced their chances of making a sale.
It must be an FAA rule that the pilot gets on the intercom and talks to us cattle seated in the back. Most of the time the pilot will talk about the weather, the flight time or how glad the whole crew is that we are flying with them.
They ought to be happy. Without us they might all be working at the Dollar General Store.
Our pilot, let’s call him “Chad,” was more talkative than most. He not only gave us the usual chatter, but he went on to run down the menu of beverages that would shortly be available.
I knew that Southwest was making an effort to be an affordable airline, but I was a bit taken aback when Chad said, “We are also offering beer and cheap wine for five bucks. Cash only. No credit cards.” I like that. I don’t drink any more, but it made me reminisce about the old college hangout, the “Dew Drop Inn.” Cash only. No credit cards. No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem.
Chad managed to drop one slightly disturbing note in his monologue when he said that were, indeed, flying in a 737 jet, and that it was their oldest one. He called our plane an “Antique.”
Antique? How is it antique? It doesn’t run on Jet Fuel? It’s a Coal Burning aircraft? Please explain more to me, Chad!
It turns out that Chad’s definition differs from mine. For Chad the word “Antique” meant that our plane did not have Wi-Fi. Chad, my drinking buddy, don’t do that to me. I’m old. I might snap and ask for extra peanuts.
After Chad wrapped it up I was able to relax and enjoy my Diet Coke and peanuts. Along with the peanuts the flight crew dished out a little bonus treat – a small bag of “Plane Cookies.” Not “Plain” Cookies, but “Plane.” The little cinnamon cookies were shaped like little itty-bitty Southwest airplanes.
In my bag I found some cookies that had somehow gotten past Quality Control Inspection. I found two cookies that were twisted and stuck together with bent wings. I bet that if I had sent a message up front to Chad about them he would have, personally, brought me a new, less ominous, bag of Plane Cookies. He just seems to be that kind of guy.