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Why I Love Southwest Airlines

On the day before my wedding, I had to travel to St. Louis from Chicago. I had a flight booked on Southwest for 11:58AM. I was flying to meet my wife-to-be and go to our wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner that night.

I left our apartment in Chicago at about 10:30am. Caught a cab, threw my luggage and my wife-to-be's extra luggage (they always have extra luggage, don't they?) into the cab's trunk and took off for Midway Airport (about 20 minutes away). We were driving at about 50 mph on North Avenue, ten blocks from my apartment, when my cab hit a delivery truck coming out of a Home Depot. I wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

I slammed facefirst into the cab's plexiglass divider that separated the front and back seats. Everything went black for a few seconds, then I heard a voice asking if I was okay. I shook my head and felt blood running down my chin. I had a bloody nose and a cut chin.

@#$%!

I looked up at the person speaking to me. A pedestrian was asking how I was doing. The idiot cab driver was out of the cab yelling at the truck driver - I don't think he ever thought to see if I was okay. The truck driver, who had pulled out in front of the cab, was yelling racial epithets back at the cabbie. Meanwhile, I was trying to stem the blood flow out of my nose.

Screw this noise!

I got out of the back seat. Went into the driver's seat of the cab and popped open the trunk. I started unloading my luggage and looking for another cab. It was hot - around 90 degrees. I was nervous, sweating, and had blood all down the front of my white shirt. I was wiping the blood from my nose and chin on the sleeves of my shirt.

The police showed up quickly. It was now 10:50am. The flights were all booked for the whole day - I was begining to panic. I had to get out of there...

The cabbie was telling the police not to let me go as I was his witness and I still owed him $4.50. The police wanted me to go to the hospital. The truck driver didn't care what I did or where I went.

After giving the cabbie my contact information and assuring the cop that I was fine, I caught another cab (I didn't pay the original cabbie). When we finally made it to the highway, we hit a traffic jam. It was now 11:10am.

We pulled up to the Southwest counter at 11:50am. I cut to the front of the line. I am dripping with sweat and the front of my shirt is covered in blood and I have blood clots on my nose and chin.

Customers start complaining that I am cutting in line. I was on the verge of losing it and beating one of the customers with the stantion. I looked like Death on a bad day.

Blackfive: "Look! I have five minutes to catch my flight. I was just in a car accident. I am getting married and HAVE TO BE ON THAT FLIGHT!"

The Ticket Agent looks me and up and down, checks my itinerary, makes an obvious conclusion, and calls for a porter. She didn't check me in. I didn't think I was going to make it on the flight, and, if I rented a car and drove the 320 miles, I would be late to the rehearsal and subsequent dinner. Not good, not good at all...

SWA Ticket Agent: "Paul, get this guy on his plane. Move!"

Paul, a 6'4" black guy who could have played linebacker for the Bears, grabs some of my stuff and we sprint for the gate. It is 11:53AM. Paul maneuvers through the terminal - making apologies for bumping into people, sidestepping elderly folks, and sprinting when an opening appeared.

I follow him down the gantry to the plane. He throws my suitcases to the flight attendent, shakes my hand and wishes me luck. I get on the plane. They shut the door. The Flight Attendent asks me if I would like a complimentary cocktail. I accept the drink - still breathing hard from my run up terminal A.

Over the speaker system on the plane: "Ladies and Gentlemen, our groom has MADE IT!"

The entire plane erupts in applause and cheers. I had flight attendents trying to perform first aid on my nose and chin. I had passengers buying me drinks. And I told the story over the speaker for everyone on the plane. Someone even offered me a ride to my hotel.

Luckily, I didn't see my wife until the rehearsal dinner. I did look like I got beat up, though. At first, she thought I was in a bar brawl (been known to happen).

In all of our wedding pictures, you can see the gash on my chin. Among other things, it reminds me that Southwest is one kick ass airline.

Update: A related but not-necessarily follow up post is here - it's about how I forgot I had a microphone on at my wedding.

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