I used to have a client in Alameda. Once when I was there for meetings, we finished up much earlier in the day than I was expecting. I had my normal first class ticket booked on Delta out of SFO, but that was at 5pm and I didn’t want to kill a whole day waiting.
Went online and found a direct out of OAK (much closer airport) that I could JUST make, so I quickly bought a ticket and Ubered over to the airport. It was on Southwest, which I never fly, but it lined up perfectly with my plans and would get me home much earlier than I thought. So why not.
Because it was a last minute ticket, I wasn’t able to buy a first class ticket. No problem. I called Southwest while en route to the airport and asked if I could upgrade. The confused woman on the other end told me that there… were no upgrades. That was when I learned that SWA is like a bus, every seat is exactly the same. The entire plane is economy.
Went through security, got to the gate, and it was an actual zoo. It was around then I noticed that I didn’t have a seat number on my ticket. I asked the gate agent and learned that I would have to line up (like a child on a field trip) to board the plane. And then would just take any seat available.
I honestly don’t think I have ever been more depressed and mortified by an experience in my life. I wound up sitting in a tiny economy airplane seat in the MIDDLE row. I was doing sensitive client work hunched over a little tray. There were no hot meals and no wine/beer either.
Also, the flight attendant was wearing shorts. AND I asked him if I could hang my sport coat up in the front closet, as I normally do on Delta flights, and he just laughed at me.
That was by far the scariest thing that ever happened to me on an airplane. It was emotionally scarring and I had to see a therapist for several months afterward.