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Take Me Back Baby: Or how I Crawled Back to Southwest After a Brief Love Affair with American Airlines

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I had been flying Southwest for years and I would always tell all my friends that I was happy with her.  She was really nice.  She always treated me great.  Yeah, I know, maybe she didn't have a first class cabin or fancy international flights, but that was ok.  We'd been together for years.  I was comfortable with her.  I had no plans of checking out the other airlines.  I had heard about their offers and great status options but Southwest was my girl.

Then it happened.  The indiscretion.  I took a vacation to Europe with a friend who had a lot of American Airlines points and we got upgraded to first class.  WOW!!!!!  I had no idea that flying could be this exciting.  We were getting hot towels, champagne, and ice cream sundaes.  F#%ing ICE CREAM SUNDAES!!!! Southwest had never done that to me, not even on my birthday when the lights were off.

As soon as I got home I ordered the American Airlines credit card and never looked back.  I'm so ashamed to admit it now, but I didn't even feel guilty.  

American was so much flashier.  There was promise of sitting in first class and boarding before everyone else.  I wouldn't even have to set an alarm for exactly 24 hours before my flight!  But just like all flashy girls, the glitz is usually there to cover up the ugly parts.  I thought that all people who worked at the airlines were nice.  The Southwest people always were.  This was NOT the case with American.  With any question I could usually expect an eye role and a look of "why exactly are you wasting my time"?  I thought we'd be having the kind of fun that we had together on my first flight.  I soon realized this was the exception and not the rule.  That was just to lure me in.  Then the really bad parts started to come to light.  

Whenever I had to change a flight with Southwest, it was never an issue.  Like the friendly, understanding, partner she was, the response was always, "no problem, just let us know when you'd like to fly next and we'll apply the balance."  American was the girl who never let you forget the small mistake you made. First it was the change fees, then the hiked up prices, and the attitude of, "this is all your fault, maybe you'll know better next time."

Even though American has spots for first class, they often don't have spots for your carry on bags.  On short flights, these have to be checked plane side.  So while the Southwest folks are going on to their destination, with American you're standing on the jet bridge as the -12 degree wind from a Minneapolis winter whips around you.  All the while, your coat is in your plane side bag.

So, I put up with this for a year and a half.  All the while racking up these major points so I could have the deluxe treatment on an international flight once again.  Then, when I went to cash in the points.  The only option was a 3 connection flight with a 10 hour layover.  Although I could log on to the website and see there were direct first class seats up for grabs.

This is an easy lesson and one that every guy has to learn.  Sometimes when you look over and see something that is much flashier and gets your heart pounding it so often is going to leave you completely unfulfilled in the long run. 

With hat in hand, I'm going to go back to Southwest.  I belonged with her the whole time. And I know she'll not only take me back, but give me a big hug the first time she sees me, cause that's the kind of girl she is.

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