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Picks and Pans Review: Airline

updated 01/12/2004 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/12/2004 01:00AM

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A&E (Mondays, 10 p.m. ET)

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"Southwest may be a low-budget airline," says the announcer, "but that doesn't mean they won't pull out all the stops for their customers." You may think you're watching a commercial, but the tone of this new reality series (premiering Jan. 5 with back-to-back, half-hour episodes) isn't always so promotional. Airline doesn't overuse the airbrush in depicting Southwest's operations, so it offers enough candor and conflict to be fairly entertaining.

Customer service is at the center of things, and often it's not smooth. One passenger is told that he smells too bad to fly in polite company, another that he must buy a second seat because he's too fat for just one. These two handle their embarrassment rather calmly, but a drunken traveler turns irate when barred from a flight, as does a sportsman who can't grasp why his shotgun must be inspected before it goes on a plane. The Southwest reps try to be diplomatic, but when some passengers are stranded through no fault of their own, you'll share their anger.

One thing Airline oversells is the fun-and-games approach of Southwest's flight attendants. Anyone for peace and quiet in the sky?

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