This College Student Just Went Viral for Flying Southwest With Her Pool Noodle

Southwest had the *perfect* response to her TikToks documenting the pool noodle's travels.


Unlike most airlines, which pile on the fees for each teeny piece of luggage you bring, Southwest lets you check two for free. And the fan-favorite carrier isn't exactly choosy about what you bring as part of its Fly-Free policy—as long as it's, you know, legal. Case in point: The college student who recently put the policy to the test by traveling with her pool noodle.

Sydney Fowls, who was traveling from Columbus, Ohio, to Tampa, Florida, brought along her pool noodle on a $20 bet with her family, documenting the journey from check-in to baggage claim on TikTok. She racked up an impressive 11 million views at the time of writing.

"As a 20-year-old broke college student who is an education major... I just couldn't resist," Fowls wrote in a follow-up TikTok about the $20 bet, adding that she's aware that she could have bought a pool noodle in Florida, but that she didn't have to pay anything to bring it either way.

Once Southwest get wind of the social media post, the brand was quick to capitalize on its viral status—and flex that Fly-Free policy that got Sydney's pool noodle to Florida. On literally any other airline it would've cost at least $30 or so to get that 99-cent noodle to its destination. 

"Sydney's family: $20 says you won't check a pool noodle on Southwest. Sydney: bet," Southwest wrote on Twitter. The carrier even surprised Fowls with a brand-new Southwest-branded noodle upon her return, greeting her arrival with a crowd of noodle-waving employees.

"The amazing Southwest employees filled the baggage claim with pool noodles and beach balls to show their appreciation, saying it made their day," Fowls added on TikTok.

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.