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Anybody Can Fly Southwest--And I Mean Anybody

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AP

I fly Southwest a lot. Like, almost every week. You may recall that a few months agoI blogged about my dismay over the new boarding procedure--no more standing in line A, B, or C, but now there are numbered areas to stand in as well.

I got major blowback from Southwest employees and fans for being critical. I have to admit that I quickly got the hang of the system, and now I like it.

Perhaps someday they'll come up with a boarding procedure that doesn't involve quite so many signposts, but I'm not holding my breath. After all, it's been more than six years since 9/11, and the TSA is still forcing us through an archaic system of card tables and plastic bins to undress and go through security.

But I digress.

In all the years I've traveled, I experienced a first this week. Waiting in line Monday to get on my Southwest flight to Sacramento was a bum. Not a "bum" as in the jerk who takes a half hour to seat himself and drapes his jacket across three seats while shouting into his Bluetooth. I mean an actual bum.

The gentleman was wearing clean clothes and was not being disruptive in the least, but he reeked of alcohol, was confused and overly talkative, and had the ruddy visage of someone who has lived a very hard life. He was a slightly cleaner version of the guy you see on the street corner with the sign. The man was confused by the boarding procedure (can't blame him there), and then was extremely apologetic about that to everyone within 20 feet. Once on board, he pulled out a $5 to buy a beer. Which he was served.

The Southwest crew treated him just like everyone else--and, the truth is, he was perfectly fine. Perhaps serving him the beer kept him that way. Call me a snob for talking about this, but, sorry folks, I eyeball everyone on airplanes now to size up the odds there will be trouble once we're airborne. Such are the times.

Perhaps most surprising to me as I wondered "Wow, there's a bum boarding the plane," was my following thought, "Why haven't I ever seen one before?" I mean, with many airfares as cheap as they are, anyone can fly. And even have $5 left over for a beer.

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