Yes, you heard it here first.  I am really starting to like Southwest Airlines.  Actually, I’ve always “liked” Southwest, I’ve just never had so many opportunities to use Southwest.

This week, I had to travel down to North Carolina for last-minute personal reasons.  A quick search on yielded roundtrip transportation on an American Eagle RJ for a whopping $600 dollars.  At that price, the use of miles for such a short flight becomes a reasonable option.  MileSAAver awards (25,000 miles) were available, but American’s rediculous last-minute award booking fee of $100 dollars makes this option less attractive.  I would’ve jumped on it anyway, were it not for another option: Southwest Airlines.

I could’ve booked nonstop 737 jet service from BWI to RDU for $250 dollars.  However, I happened to have a Rapid Rewards ticket available.  I checked availability of seats, there was plenty, and better yet, at perfect times.  I booked the Rapid Rewards ticket in minutes, no muss-no fuss.  Final cost?  Five dollars!  No last-minute confiscatory fees, and no hassle.  BWI, while not as convenient as Reagan National (DCA) for me, is not difficult to get to.  I can take the MARC commuter train for $6 dollars each way to BWI from Washington’s Union Station, and that’s what I did.  I just missed the outbound MARC train, so I opted for Amtrak instead.  This added $6 dollars to the cost of my trip.  Total cost for the whole trip: $27 dollars (including METRO to/from Union Station)!

I could’ve purchased full-fare transportation (Business Select) on Southwest for $311.20, all-in.  And with that, gotten a free cocktail and priority boarding whether I’d ever flown the airline or not.  Folks, you can’t shake a stick at that, especially when you consider that American’s DCA-RDU full coach roundtrip fare is… wait for it….   $1751.20!  No, that is not a misprint.  Another important aspect of this equation is that if your travel plans change when flying Southwest, they will not confiscate your money if you can’t make the trip.  You can apply the balance of non-refundable fares to future travel on Southwest without charge.  That is something to think about.

I’ll be purchasing a ticket for the same route next month.  Trust me when I say that I will remember Southwest.  They made it possible for me to attend a very important event, and I won’t forget it.