While a resident of Arizona in the early 1980s, I heard reams of anecdotes about the benefits of making Southwest Airlines your preferred carrier. I even shared a house with two people who worked for the airline and talked about its colorful founder, Herb Kelleher, in almost reverential terms.

Predictably, on my first flight with them, they lost my luggage. And mind you, this was on a short hop of roughly 40 minutes. True to form, they were properly apologetic and promised the bags would be returned within 24 hours -- which they were.

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