I have always been a fan of the Wild West, specifically anything to do with Wyatt Earp. I mean, that man was a bad ass full of badassery! In fact, during college, I wrote a history paper about the shoot out at the OK Corral and it was actually chosen for publication in the Narrative Online Journal (YEAH!). Anyway, long before I actually went to college, I had always wanted to see Tombstone so I decided to go. For me to get there, I would have to fly into Tucson and rent a car and drive the hour and fifteen minutes toward the OK Corral. I was excited!
I used to know the owner and CEO of Southwest Airlines and often got free tickets to fly anywhere Southwest Airlines did. The only thing I had to do was call up Herb Kelleher, request a voucher and then make my reservations. The process was always a fairly smooth one and the reservation agents (RA) were always pleasant.
Pleasant and knowledgeable do not necessarily coincide with one another.
Me: I'd like to make reservations to fly from Dallas Love Field to Tucson, Arizona, please. I have a complimentary voucher.
RA: Sure, no problem. Let me pull up the complimentary voucher screen on my computer. It'll take just a moment.
Me: Thank you.
RA: So, do you have family in Tusscan?
You saw that correctly. That's the way he said Tucson! He pronounced it TUSS-CAN. I was speechless at first, thinking I had not heard him correctly.
Me: Excuse me?
RA: I said, do you have family in Tusscan?
Me: I'm not sure what you are asking.
RA: Tusscan. Family there?
Me: Are you joking with me?
RA: Um, no ma'am. Just trying to make conversation while waiting for the screen to appear.
Me: I'm sorry. You do realize that I'm requesting to go to the town in Southeast Arizona and not Tuscany, Italy, correct? Besides, the last time I checked, Southwest Airlines doesn't fly outside of the continental United States.
RA: I know. You want to go to Tusscan, Arizona!
Me: Don't you mean TOO-SAWN?
RA (obviously ignoring me): Aha...my complimentary voucher screen came up. Give me just a moment.
I hear the clickety-clack of the keyboard going on in the background as he checks the availability of my requested time frame for travel.
I was worried that this reservation agent was going to send me to a place where I wouldn't know how to escape, have the proper vaccinations, or a machete in my possession. Possibly all three.
Me : Excuse me, but how are you spelling the town of Tucson?
Me: How are you spelling Tucson?
RA: (apparently irked at my request): T-U-C-S-O-N.
Me: And that looks like T-U-S-S-C-A-N to you?
RA: I'm still here, ma'am. I have your reservations available. Your ticket will be waiting for you at the check-in desk upon arrival.
Me: I don't know if I should thank you or be worried that I won't have the proper identification and vaccination record before I depart. That would be a wasted trip to the airport and then I would have to call YOU back and, trust me, you don't want that to happen. It will NOT be pleasant for either one of us.
RA: No ma'am. That won't be necessary. I have you booked for Tusscan, Arizona on the dates you requested.
Anyway, I don't know if any of you have flown Southwest Airlines before, and if you have, then you know it's like ping-ponging across the country.
RA: Your departure from Dallas Love Field is ... (I can't remember the date. It's been a long time since then).
Me (writing this down): Okay.
RA: I have you stopping in Houston, Texas. You'll stay on the plane and then take-off for Albuquerque, New Mexi --
Me: Wait...how did you spell Albuquerque?
RA: The way it's supposed to be spelled.
Me: Just checking.
RA: Once you arrive in Albuquerque, you won't need to change planes before you travel to Los Angeles, California. Upon your arrival in Los Angeles, you will then have to change planes and board another flight to Tusscan.
Me: Why Los Angeles? Nothing direct from Albuquerque? That's like going around my elbow to get back to my thumb, isn't it?
Me (exhausted and defeated): Alright, just get me to Tussc -- , I mean, Tucson any way you can.
Yep, flying Southwest Airlines is like playing ping pong. I went from Dallas to Houston to Albuquerque to Los Angeles and finally, Tucson. It was almost an all day event. I could have probably driven there a lot faster. But, free is free, so I didn't complain. (Thank you SWA and Herb Kelleher!)
And, by the way, Tombstone is as awesome as the history books make it out to be. I want to go back someday, but I highly doubt I'll be using Southwest Airlines to get there. Oh yeah, and Tucson is awesome too!
NOTE: I honestly do like Southwest Airlines. Their staff is friendly, helpful, and my experience with them has never been horrendous enough for me to stop using them.
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