Yesterday was a travel day, as Sasha and I headed to Chicago to see my family for a week, then I’m off to France for my annual medical tourism / house-sitting for Chris and his wife Joelle.
(As regular readers know, I buy my ridiculously overpriced American asthma medication in France because the drug companies charge Americans 5x what they charge Europeans for the exact same drug. J’accuse, Advair.)
The trip involves Sasha, my 10 pound Yorkie-Bichon, flying under my seat, which she really doesn’t like. But she otherwise adores the airport, as Sasha’s a bit of an attention-hog. She’s a people-dog.
The day didn’t start out terribly well, as we had one of the rudest flying experiences ever with Southwest (I know!). It started with the ticket taker as we were boarding the plane. First, the agent told the traveler in front of me to “pay attention,” after the guy accidentally handed him the wrong boarding pass. Then, when it was my turn, he saw Sasha’s head poking out of the bag and scolded me. I said I knew she needed to be zipped up for the flight, but I’d flown with her 30 times, and had never had a problem with her heading poking out while boarding. But, I said, I’ll zip her in (at the same time handing him my ticket). He refused to take my ticket and just looked at me, waiting for me to jam her head down and zip the dog.
Then I get inside the plane. mentioned it to the flight attendant while walking in, she apologized and made cooing noises at Sasha so she’d pop her head up — the flight attendant then patted her head and praised her. I walked 20 feet down the aisle and got scolded again for Sasha’s head poking out, even though her head was out because the previous flight attendant asked her to poke her head out. Flight attendant number two couldn’t have been ruder. Arrogant like a United flight attendant.
The thing is, I know the rules. I also know that Southwest lets penguins walk down the aisle (not kidding, I have photos). And they most certainly let people have their dogs sleeping on the seats next to them (more photos, and it’s something I’ve NEVER asked them to let me do). So when Rude Agent #2 lectures me about how these are the FAA’s inviolable rules, and suggests that I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about when I explain that I’ve never had anyone complain about the dog’s head while boarding over 30 times now, it irks me. It irks me because Southwest claims to be different. They claim not to have a stick up their collective tailside, like some other big carriers. And when two of the rudest flights I’ve ever flown with my dog happen on Southwest (the first was a codeshare with Air Tran, also out of DC), it starts to make me question Southwest’s commitment to being the good guys of the normally unfriendly skies.
Yes, I get it — there are rules. And unless my little girl was brandishing a pair of boxcutters, I think the
“what airline would ever let a dog’s head pop out of a bag while boarding” attitude could have been toned down a bit.
Not to mention, “pay attention”?
Having said all of that, I, as always, had a GREAT experience with TSA. Seriously.
It’s funny, but for all the bad experiences people say they have with TSA, mine have always been great, and certainly better than what I went through in the pre-TSA days. And the thing is, while my dog seems to provoke some flight attendants to bring out their inner meanie, at TSA, they’re a bunch of ooeey gooey softies when I show up with the old girl. And it’s really nice.
Even today, it was taking me a bit of time to get everything assembled after the x-ray — you try to juggle a small dog while reassembling your bags and belt. And the TSA woman came up and offered to help me. Even with the great service I’ve had with TSA before, this was remarkable.
So for all the legitimate complaints folks make about TSA, try showing up with a cute pooch — you might just find your opinion of them change markedly. :-)
Sasha had her own version of “evil Southwest flight attendant” today when she ran back into her old nemesis, Demon-Cat.
Yes, the cat that trapped me in the bathroom at Easter is back. Or rather, she never left.
I’m here for a week. Stay tuned.