I’m sending a big smoochy Valentine e-card to the Mayan Riviera today – and want to share with y’all the photo story of why I’m now sweet on the Dallas-based airline that helped me fall in LUV at first sight with the beaches of Mexico.
Just like any couple, Southwest Airlines and Mexico may not be 100% perfect all the time, but their hearts are in the right place.
Or in the case of the world’s biggest low cost airline, 97 places, making them the perfect Valentine for me…
‘Welcome to Cancun! Y’all have a margarita for us.’
The in-flight landing announcement on the inaugural Southwest journey from Houston to Mexico’s Riviera Maya is a little unusual for a Brit like me, used to a more stiff upper lip style of official in-air chatter.
‘Wait you don’t sound too excited to be in Mexico – we can take y’all right back to Houston if you like? We’re going straight back there and have lots of empty seats.”
Cue furious cheering from passengers – determined to prove that they are indeed very excited to be on one of the first ever flights from Houston’s Hobby Airport to Cancun.
It’s at this very moment I realise that flying Southwest is actually a heart-warming experience – and that I should probably drop the British reserve and act more excited to be embarking on my first trip to Mexico.
Houston Hobby Airport is to the Texas city what Gatwick is to London, a cheaper holiday hub – but in this case a lil bit closer to those downtown skyscrapers – so a great option for locals.
In fact the launch of a variety of flights to Americans’ favourite vacation destinations such as Aruba, Jamaica, Belize and Costa Rica, as well as Mexico, was kicked off with the slogan ‘Houston; You have an option’ – and Southwest have a reputation for having a bit of fun with their advertising.
This was one of the little touches that had me falling head over heels with an airline whose business model and pricing inspired the creation of Ryanair and which allows you to hop around North America (and now parts of South and Central America) in much the same way as I’m used to hopping around Europe.
Luckily Southwest don’t even charge you for checking in a bag, let alone for going to the loo as Ryanair was rumoured to be considering.
While I was on holiday in Mexico I fell in love with a lot of places – the Riviera Maya in general, the concept of swimming in cenotes and snorkelling with turtles, and the private villa at The Banyan Tree Mayakoba which I called home for a few blissful days.
I then made my way to an incredible beachside yoga retreat with The Travel Yogi to set about creating a sense of zen in my mind and body.
But before you dismiss this post as purely some PR fluff for an airline who probably gave me a press pass to fly (they did) – let me tell you that as it’s Valentine’s Day I want to be totally honest – as every loving partner should be – and say the object of my affections isn’t perfect, but I will always have a soft spot for them anyway.
I found Southwest staff in the air generally much friendlier than the ground staff (and I put this down to the fact that surely everyone who works for an airline but has to sit behind a desk must be mighty miffed most of the time, so you’re bound to come across the odd grumpy face).
I also ended up with a missing bag for a few hours during one leg of my complex journey – but luckily the Southwest staff member to whom I reported it personally found my suitcase in the wee hours of the morning and left the airport herself to deliver it to my hotel room door. And that was LUVley.
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