Hi, and welcome to your Southwest Airlines flight 2021 to nowhere.
Please gather at the gate according to your group. Standard procedure is to hover around your assigned letter, nervously clutching your boarding pass. Now, just wedge your body between two people who don’t seem that assertive. Even better if there’s a child you can bigfoot. Good. Get as close to the front of your group lane as possible, even if your number is B-5,469,232.
When someone says, “I’m B-6, what are you?” pretend not to notice them. Stare at your phone and put in earbuds. When they insist, say something like, “Who knows how any of this works?!” Do not leave any gap in the line. Consider setting down your carry-on and having a conversation with the satchel as though it is a human passenger. Tell the bag, “First thing I’m doing in Orlando is buying a MagicBand at a gas station.” People will naturally leave you alone.
Now that you have formed an orderly queue, it’s our unfortunate duty to tell you that this flight is canceled. We are very sorry that we cannot help you find a way on your journey or offer you anything of value at this time.
There’s a lot of speculation going around as to why we canceled more than 1,000 flights on Sunday, so let’s “clear the air.” Get it? We already “cleared the air” this weekend! Oh, you don’t think that’s … OK.
Florida had bad weather, because, ugh, Florida! If you know, you know. Florida started this. We’re also contending with COVID-19 staffing shortages, same as your neighborhood Buffalo Wild Wings. We do not believe we should be treated any differently than Buffalo Wild Wings. In fact, some of our flight attendants, stretched to their physical and mental breaking points, have told us of their intention to work at Buffalo Wild Wings.
We know you are firing up social media, and we encourage free speech. But we at Southwest like to focus on the positives. We have many features to offer other than actually getting to your destination, and we humbly ask you to think about how great this flight could have been.
We would have loved for you to have witnessed our Evolve cabin remodel, with more comfortable seat cushions and enhanced lumbar support. Regrettably, we will not be offering sitting as a service on any of our planes. This approach will keep the new cushions nice and fluffy. No butts about it! Haha! Oh, you’re not in the mood for … moving on.
It’s still a pandemic, and we know cleanliness is important. The planes you will not be flying on today have been deep cleaned with electrostatic disinfectant and antimicrobial spray. We also use efficient HEPA filters to purify the air you will not be breathing. The best way to keep you safe is to not even get on board in the first place.
We offer complimentary snacks and drinks on any of our flights over 250 miles, but since your flight will be zero miles, there will be no service. If you ask the gate attendant nicely, he may give you a fistful of belVita Breakfast Biscuits that you can snack on with your double-tall vodka soda at the nearest airport bar. It’s crucial to line the stomach.
Finally, we ask you to think about what you missed. You missed a seatmate gossiping about her sister-in-law’s Botox mishap. You missed seven tense exchanges with a man whose mask “just keeps slipping off his nose.” You missed four crying babies and a screening of “A Star Is Born,” which you have probably already seen. Ask yourself, did you really want to fly today anyway?
Oh, you did? Oh. We regret that we cannot help you with that.
Stephanie Hayes is a columnist at the Tampa Bay Times in Florida. Follow her at @stephhayeswrites on Facebook, @stephhayes on Twitter or @stephrhayes on Instagram.