The Lite Side

Southwest to Charge Mac Users Double

- 2002.07.16

In a move that surprised everyone in the computing and travel industry, Southwest Airlines has announced that it will begin enforcing its twelve-year old policy of charging Mac users double for seats on the bargain-basement airline.

"Mac users make life miserable for everyone around them," said Southwest spokesmodel Laura Gotelliton-Themountain. "They're constantly complaining about file transfer formats being incompatible, and they're allergic to the floppy disks we hand out as promotional items."

Reaction from other flyers was swift and merciless. "This guy with a PowerBook G4 was showing off during the whole flight," said Dan Graben, a longtime PC user. "I mean, he was bragging about not having to change his batteries and how wide his screen was. The screen didn't even fit on the seat tray and spilled out over onto my side of the seat. How rude - I didn't have room to connect my external CD-RW or change batteries. He should get a real computer or fly some other airline."

Southwest makes its money by being efficient - and, according to them, efficient means identical.

"We want all our passengers to look alike and to use the same operating system," said Gotelliton-Themountain. "It's not fair to the other passengers to have to subsidize the Mac users."

Lance Nimboil of the air travel association noted that while Mac users are only 5% of the general population, they are 12% of the flying public. "Southwest needs to be careful about picking on Mac users," he said. "It's one thing to pick on some fat slob that no one cares about; but picking on a Mac user is likely to backfire on them."

Southwest has no guidelines on how it will determine if you are a Mac user as you board the plane. However, if you are seated and pull out a PowerBook or iBook, you'll have to pony up the extra price of an empty seat next to you to protect the PC users around you. If you fail to pay, "the tarmac's just 20 feet below," said one Southwest employee speaking on condition of anonymity. "When's the last time you heard a PC user stick up for a Mac user? Get real. We chuck 'em [Mac users] out on the tarmac all the time. "

A Mac user sued Southwest over its policy during the Dark Times Before Steve Came Back, but lost the case - probably because his PowerBook 5300 burst into flame on the aircraft. Ever since then, Southwest has been getting more aggressive with fat people and Mac users. "Old people and noisy kids are next, just you wait and see. Next thing you know you'll need a tie to get on board," said Mary Nosebleeth, a longtime Mac user who flies Southwest. "I just put a great big Intel Inside™ over my iBook's Apple logo, and no one ever notices me," she said.

Why not just add some extra seats to accommodate the Mac users? "If we were to replace just three rows of three seats with two seats, each being one and a half times wider, we would have to double our fares to maintain our profit margin," according to Colleen Barrett, President, COO, and Thin PC User for Southwest Airlines. When asked to explain how that could possibly be true due to the fact that she claims that an average of 6 seats per flight represents the airline's profit and the average flight is only 63% full, leaving many empty seats which should not be included in the calculations, she responded, "That's my story, and I'm stickin' with it."

And if you're a fat Mac user? "You really should upgrade," according to Nosebleeth. "They really aren't meant for use on an airplane. Maybe some kind of laptop would be better."

Further reading

Jeff Adkins is a former (as of this week) Southwest customer opposed to discrimination in all forms. He doesn't want some addle-headed PC-using Southwest desk clerk to be the person who diagnoses his weight problem. He's looking for someone to market a shirt with some sort of derogatory comment about Southwest on it to wear when he flies to Arizona this summer.

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