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    Southwest Airlines to Phoenix

    The reason the Marriott Hotels of Hawaii invited me out was so I would tweet (my Twitter handle is @JohnnyJet) about their upcoming four-week 12-city Spirit of Aloha Tour, which kicked off last week. I was on hand for their Phoenix party as well.

    What I love about Marriott is that they are always coming up with clever ways to promote their brand and along the way help other people. On this tour they are bringing a whole slew (a busload) of Hawaiian entertainers including lovely hula dancers, musicians, and a fireknife dancer from Hawaii's Polynesian Cultural Center. They are performing and teaching the hula to patients at 11 Children's Miracle Network hospitals across the country.

    Marriott's Spirit of Aloha Tour began on January 11 at the Kapi‘olani Center for Women & Children in Honolulu; the first destination on the mainland was the Phoenix Children's Hospital on January 19, followed by stops in Dallas and Houston. Here's the rest of the schedule:

    • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta – Thursday, January 28
    • Levine Children's, Charlotte, NC – Saturday, January 30
    • Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville – Monday, February 1
    • Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, St. Louis – Tuesday, February 2
    • The Children's Hospital, Denver – Friday, February 5
    • Children's Miracle Network headquarters, Salt Lake City – Tuesday, February 9
    • Children's Hospital Los Angeles – Thursday, February 11

    Marriott has been working with the Children's Miracle Network for 26 years and has raised more than $66 million to help sick and injured children in local communities. If you see their colorful bus drive by, be sure to stick out your hand and flash them a Shaka sign.

    I flew Southwest from LAX to Phoenix (PHX); it's just 51 minutes there and an hour back (due to headwinds). The key to flying Southwest is to check in online 24 hours before departure so you'll be able to score a favorable seat. Southwest has open seating, which means they don't assign seats. So the earlier you check in for your flight (passengers can do it up to 24 hours in advance online), the closer you get to the front of the boarding line, which means a better chance of getting the seat you want (ahem, row 11). They board in three groups (A, B, and C) and by boarding pass numbers. It would be both too long and too boring for me to explain fully; instead see Southwest's web demonstration.

    Since I was flying from Hawaii I was late checking in and ended up getting to it about 14 hours before flight time. I got stuck with B38, which is in the middle of the boarding order, but I still managed to store my bags and get an aisle seat.

    When I took my seat on the 737 I was excited to see an information card stating the plane was equipped with Wi-Fi, available for $2–12 per segment. When we reached 10,000 feet and we were able to turn on our electronics I fired up my computer to see what the Wi-Fi charge was going to be. I was shocked to find it was $8. EIGHT DOLLARS! The flight to PHX is only 51 minutes. When you factor in that you can only be on your laptop once you reach 10,000 feet and usually have to stow your belongings 20 minutes before landing, that leaves just enough time to reply to a few emails. However, if the fee had been $2 as I was hoping I would've paid it since I'm an Internet junkie.


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