I was holding an AWA boarding pass for a coach-class seat and was already checked-in for the flight to San Diego, the last AWA departure from Phoenix for the evening.
It became apparent that I would have to fly with a plane-load of sweaty football players and their screaming fans returning to the coast.
It was 45 minutes before take-off time I went over to the boarding desk to upgrade my seat to first-class. The AWA representative at the desk glared at me for several seconds and then told me if I wanted to upgrade my seat then I'd have to return all the way to the AWA ticket sales counter in the main terminal at Sky Harbor airport.
I went back to the ticket counter, and stood for many minutes waiting for someone to sell me an upgrade. Finally, I proceeded back through the long line at airport security, and into the boarding area, again.
By the time I got to the boarding area it was approximately ten minutes to take-off time - yet they had already boarded and closed the plane.
I explained my situation and when I asked to board the plane I was flatly refused. It would be impossible to convey to you how rudely and coldly the America West Airlines gate personnel acted towards me.
After an exchange of opinions about America West Airlines policy, personnel and lack of respect for first-class passengers, I tore up my ticket and bought one on Southwest Airlines.
After going through the whole ticket purchasing/check-in routine again things started looking up. I finally boarded the last Southwest flight of the evening...
When our Southwest 737 reached the ramp, sitting there was the AWA plane along with several others waiting to take off because of ground fog.
After five minutes of waiting, our Southwest pilot, with some humor, announced that we were returning to the gate to pick up some passengers(!). I thought he was kidding, until he taxied us back to the terminal. There we picked up a middle-aged woman and her daughter who were late to the airport. They were greeted with a round of applause as they came in to hunt for their seats.
Our Southwest flight returned to the ramp in time to take off within seconds of the same America West flight that refused to let me, a first-class passenger, aboard!
Some of the rudest and coldest people you'll find anywhere work for America West Airlines. Because of the preceding incident I will never fly America West Airlines again. Furthermore, I feel compelled to take every opportunity to encourage others NOT to travel with America West, but to fly with Southwest Airlines, instead.