It was the early morning of Wednesday January 27th 2016 that I found out my 90 year-old grandfather had been admitted to the emergency room because of a life-threatening medical condition. That afternoon, I booked a Southwest flight to Milwaukee for the next day.
Unfortunately since I was flying less than 24 hours after I booked my ticket, all of the cheapest “Wanna Get Away” fares were sold out. The next cheapest “Anytime” fares were also sold out. Desperate to see my grandfather no matter what, we were forced to buy “Business Select” fares for a total of $1,000.86 per person round trip. Taking this trip earned us both 11,016 points good for future award flights, as well as 11,016 status points toward A-list status and the Southwest Companion Pass.
Although Southwest’s “Business Select” fares are their most expensive, they may be worth the extra cost for several reasons:
- Firstly, for every dollar you spend on a “Business Select” fare (excluding taxes and fees), you earn 12 Southwest points redeemable for Southwest flights, as well as 12 Southwest status points toward A-list status and the Southwest Companion Pass.
- Secondly, you get priority boarding, which means you’re the first passengers to board the plane. All “Business Select” fares automatically receive one of the coveted A1 through A15 boarding numbers.
- Thirdly, you also get Fly By® lane access, which allows you to skip the line when you need to check your bag or speak to a ticketing agent. Likewise, there is a priority lane at security where you can skip the wait.
Although we booked less than 24 hours before our flight, after check in my fiancée and I received boarding numbers A1 and A2!
If you’re not familiar with how Southwest’s seating works, it’s pretty simple: there is no reserved seating period. If you see a empty seat you would like, whether it be an aisle, middle or window seat, then it is yours.
On this flight, since we were the first to board, I was able to get the most unusual seat available on board: 12A in the exit row.
Cabin and Seats
Due to the exit door being in between rows 11 and 12 on the port (left) side of the plane, both rows 11 and 12 serve as exit rows. And if both rows 11 and 12 had window seats, it would be impossible to access the exit door. Therefore row 12 has a window seat but row 11 does not. In comparison, on the starboard (right) side of the plane, only row 11 is an exit row.
Since I was sitting in seat 12A, my fiancée decided to take the aisle seat 12C. We figured no one wanted to sit in the middle, and we were right. On the return flight, we were also able to get A1 and A2 boarding numbers, which meant we sat in the exact same seats on the way back to San Francisco!
Food and Drinks
This flight, just like all Southwest flights, did not have a full meal service. Instead, all passengers get to pick snacks out of a basket that the flight attendants bring to each row. There is no option to purchase food on board.
For drinks, Southwest offered all passengers free soft drinks, juice, coffee or tea. Beer, wine or hard liquor was $5 each. Because we were flying to Milwaukee, I ordered a Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy for free, thanks to the one free alcoholic drink coupon all “Business Select” fares include. On the way back, I ordered the same thing.
This Southwest flight offered video entertainment through their website www.southwestwifi.com. All you had to do was connect to their on-board wi-fi signal from your phone, laptop or tablet and you could watch live TV for free, or on-demand movies for $5 each. As well as watching TV or movies, you could also track the flight’s progress and access the main southwest.com website for free.
However if you wanted to browse the internet, you were expected to pay $8 per device. Or if you just wanted to message people on the ground, you can pay for a messaging only wi-fi access for $2 per device. I believe that T-Mobile subscribers could message for free, however I wasn’t able to confirm this since I don’t have their service.
This flight was a super positive experience, and probably by far the best Southwest flight I’ve ever taken. What I liked in particular was how fortunate we were to get seats 12A, 12B and 12C to ourselves. I have no doubt that buying “Business Select” fares on this trip was worth it to get that row. However I’m reluctant to recommend “Business Select” fares in general on Southwest, because I feel that they are a bad value for money. In the future, if I’m spending over $1,000 per person to fly cross country, I’m going with a legacy carrier that offers reserved seats in first or business class.
That being said, not once did I feel stressed due to the fact that we booked this trip at the last minute. And I got to see my grandfather at the hospital, where he made a full recovery. Being able to spend time with him as he recovered really puts everything into perspective, and makes your appreciate how lucky you are to have healthy friends and family. And thanks to Southwest, I was able to be there for him!