So my local airport, Seattle Tacoma International, is a hub for Alaska Airlines, which has been running a super fun (and kind of silly) promotion since 2014; wear your Russell Wilson jersey, and get priority boarding on any flight Alaska flies out of SeaTac.
I didn’t do it in 2014, but when they brought it back in February of 2015, I dropped $85 and bought the jersey before my flight to San Diego. Getting priority boarding for the jersey is silly, it means I board the plane maybe three minutes before I normally would have. It was silly, but it was super fun; back then I actually used the word “exquisite”.
Here’s how it works; the gate agent calls for priority boarding for anyone wearing the Russell Wilson jersey. All the smug Californians who can’t wait to get the hell out of Seattle all scoff, because they assume that nobody knew about that (even though it’s been on since 2014, I believe). So they crowd around the velvet rope to the jetway, and I am a small voice behind them saying, “excuse me.” They part, gasping, and I walk happily up to the jetway to bloop my phone, and thank the gate agent. Once I’m aboard I take my seat, and I have just enough time to take a selfie and post it before the entire rest of the plane gets on.
One time, a man looked at me slyly and said, chuckling, “I bet you planned that!” And I said, yes, the promotion has been going on for a couple of years.
The next time I flew out of SeaTac, was a year later. I wore my jersey and waited patiently but priority boarding was never called. I tweeted @alaskaair to ask ‘what gives?’ and Ángel the designated tweeter said to come back during football season and try again. I was surprised, because I didn’t remember the promotional material saying anything about the football season only, and when I did look at the website, I saw a big fat nothing about the promotion only being during the football season. Seemed weird, since the first time I got priority boarding, it was mid February, well after the Superbowl.
Ever since then, whenever I fly out of SeaTac I tweet the @alaskaair account to see if it’s happening or not. Every time. In fact, if you search twitter for both our handles “@jpv206 @alaskaair” you’ll find a complete record of our conversations, including them apologizing to me on three occasions.
The first time, when they said that it was only during the season, I was disappointed but took it at face value. The second time it happened, I didn’t want to make a big deal about it; but another passenger actually pointed to me and said, “this guy should be getting priority boarding!” I tweeted them and they apologized. Also that time there was an issue of a really old fruit & cheese plate; I tweeted them a photo of my rotten apple and they gave me a $15 credit. As a diabetic, I would actually have preferred to have had a proper apple when I needed it.
Last week on my flight to SJO, they failed to call priority boarding again. Anyway, this time I was disappointed enough to ask the gate agent why they didn’t call for priority boarding for the jerseys, and she said that she hadn’t heard about it yet, that the company hadn’t made an announcement to say if it was on or off. I got on the plane, tweeted the company, and the company apologized and said it was definitely on.
Look, as I said before, it’s a silly promotion, it doesn’t really help me fly or make my life better; it’s just a little bit of spirit and fun. If this promotion is over, I want them to just tell me, so I don’t have to get excited about it.
I’m flying again in November and again in December; holiday travel both times. It might be hectic at the gate, and hectic at the airport. I’ll tweet them before I go, to make sure the promo is still on, and when I get to the gate, this time I’ll ask them, the promo is on, right? Because this company has made a chump out of me three times out of six already. We’ll see if that helps remind them. They should stop calling it a priority boarding promotion, and call it an “apology promotion” instead, since that’s what I get half the time.