Flying The Oakland California Corridor Challenge: ONT-OAK-BUR-OAK-LGB-OAK-SNA (Trip Report)

Southwest, Trip Reports

Are you tired yet? Because I’m tired, and I had only done 4 flights on this adventure on the first day. Day 2 was our biggest day of flying yet with 6 planned, all on Southwest. Why did we do that? Well, as I was playing with schedules, I realized that there seemed to be one airplane scheduled to just go up and down the coast all day with nearly sequential flight numbers and 40-50 minute layovers going Ontario – Oakland – Burbank – Oakland – Long Beach – Oakland – Orange County. Wouldn’t it be fun to just stay with the same plane? Of course it would be.

Disclosure: Oakland International Airport paid for flights, hotel, and expenses. The airlines involved were also told in advance that we were flying, so it was definitely not your normal experience on the ground, especially with Southwest.

It turns out, we were almost right. In the end, our aircraft that started the day in Ontario left us after one leg, but then we had our trusty steed, former AirTran aircraft N7720F, for the final five flights.

The day did not start well. The Doubletree Ontario had told us that the shuttles to the airport went every 20 minutes. We came down at 5:30am hoping to catch the 5:40am. The front desk knew we were waiting, but the shuttle never came. We went back in to ask where it was, and they said something about needing to go pick up a crew so they couldn’t bother running our shuttle. That was maddening. We scrambled and ordered a Lyft which showed up right about the same time as a shuttle arrived for the 6am run.

It was too late to cancel so we took the Lyft, but that driver of the shuttle felt so bad. He tried to give us $20 out of his own pocket to pay for the Lyft, but of course we wouldn’t take that. It certainly wasn’t his fault for following orders.

Needless to say, we didn’t need to worry. Security lines were short, and even though we arrived less than an hour before departure, we were at the gate with a little time to spare.

The day again began with fun and games with Southwest at the gate. That’s a tough pill to swallow at that early hour, but they played “Game of Phones,” giving prizes to those who had the lowest battery charge, oldest phone, etc. The team also brought us something from Einstein’s for breakfast.


Southwest 1309
April 13, 2022

Depart Ontario
➤ Scheduled: 705a, Actual: 704a
➤ From: Gate 403 on Runway 26R

Arrive Oakland
➤ Scheduled: 825a, Actual: 819a
➤ At: Gate 27 on Runway 30

Aircraft
➤ Type: Boeing 737-7H4
➤ Delivered: August 3, 2000
➤ Registered: N778SW, msn 27883
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick

Flight
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 9B
➤ Load: ~70% Full
➤ Flight Time: 59m

Onboard our vintage 737, we took some seats just in front of the wing and steeled ourselves for the day ahead. It was a beautiful morning once again as we taxied to the runway. I did a double take when I saw an AirBahn A320 parked at the gate with nothing to do.

We took off to the west before slowly turning north for our journey to Oakland.

I should note, Southwest now only serves those salty snack mix packs throughout the day. It’s barely something you want to eat in the afternoon, let alone the morning. I passed.

The winds were still coming at us from the northwest, so it was a little bumpy as we made our way north. Once we landed, more clouds had arrived around Oakland ahead of the next day’s storm.

Once off the airplane, we had to walk to another gate for the final time that day. After grabbing some tea, we sat at gate 24 watching our friend N7720F as we prepared to spend the rest of the day together.

Southwest 1310
April 13, 2022

Depart Oakland
➤ Scheduled: 920a, Actual: 918a
➤ From: Gate 24 on Runway 30

Arrive Burbank
➤ Scheduled: 1030a, Actual: 1013a
➤ At: Gate A7 on Runway 8

Aircraft
➤ Type: Boeing 737-7BD
➤ Delivered: January 12, 2006 to AirTran
➤ Registered: N7720F, msn 33922
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick

Flight
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 3A
➤ Load: ~60% Full
➤ Flight Time: 48m

This flight was less full, so we were able to spread out easily. We were greeted by a flight attendant who described herself on the PA as looking like a young Candice Bergen. She’s also single, or so we learned very early on, and was hilarious. It turns out she used to work for Alaska but moved to Southwest a few years ago. I’d say her personality is probably a better fit for Southwest anyway.

This was, as usual, the quickest flight of the day. We had a nice view of the ships waiting for port space on our way out.

After a cuplet of water arrived, it was already time to descend into Burbank. Though there were some northerly winds firing up, it wasn’t enough to push us into a rare approach from the south. We just did the usual landing from the west but had a great view of Van Nuys Airport on final.

Once we landed, it was about a 4 second taxi to the gate since we were right near the end of the runway.

In Burbank, there were agents waiting at the bottom of the stairs welcoming everyone in. We hopped off and were greeted by the station manager for Southwest who had also been there when I did my 2016 trip around the state. He greeted us with goodies from Porto’s Bakery and that was a very welcome surprise. Henry and I parked ourselves by the power outlets, charged up, and snarfed down some goodies.

Meanwhile, it was another so-called fun flight. They had prizes for those who could hula hoop the longest — this one young girl was a rock star who easily won — and for the first person who could name all the airports Southwest flew to in California. Someone eventually got it, but Fresno and Santa Barbara were the toughest ones.

And just like that, we were back boarding once again.

Southwest 1311
April 13, 2022

Depart Burbank
➤ Scheduled: 1105a, Actual: 1100a
➤ From: Gate A7 on Runway 15

Arrive Oakland
➤ Scheduled: 1220p, Actual: 1206p
➤ At: Gate 26 on Runway 30

Aircraft
➤ Type: Boeing 737-7BD
➤ Delivered: January 12, 2006 to AirTran
➤ Registered: N7720F, msn 33922
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick

Flight
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 12F
➤ Load: ~40% Full
➤ Flight Time: 52m

Candice Bergen and the rest of the crew greeted us back onboard again. This was the emptiest flight we’d experience, and so we headed to the unclaimed exit rows. Henry took the prized window with no seat in front while I took the window on the other side.

A quick departure was followed by the usual turn to the north.

We had a cuplet of water, and then we were back in Oakland again. This time, we just plugged in at the gate area and waited to reboard, but it was bittersweet since we had to say goodbye to Candice and let another crew take over.

Southwest 1312
April 13, 2022

Depart Oakland
➤ Scheduled: 1p, Actual: 1258p
➤ From: Gate 26 on Runway 30

Arrive Long Beach
➤ Scheduled: 220p, Actual: 207p
➤ At: Gate 8 on Runway 30

Aircraft
➤ Type: Boeing 737-7BD
➤ Delivered: January 12, 2006 to AirTran
➤ Registered: N7720F, msn 33922
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick

Flight
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 7C
➤ Load: ~55% Full
➤ Flight Time: 1h 1m

It was time for me to head home, and by that, I mean down to my home airport in Long Beach. We had a nice flight down the coast on what remained a very clear day from Monterey on. But what was different on this flight? I fired up the internet.

Southwest had given us some internet codes to use. At $8 for a full day, it would have been easy to spend that anyway, and I was hopeful that it would actually work on these flights, especially since the Diamondbacks had a day game.

I started off streaming through MLB.tv and somehow it worked… for about 5 minutes. Then it conked out, but I could listen to the radio feed, and it was largely usable for email and Twitter. It wasn’t perfect, but it was enough.

When we landed in Long Beach, more crewmembers were there welcoming us all in. I walked out and made a beeline for the courtyard where I was meeting Dave to do some recording for Cranky Talk. Little did I know that the Southwest team at LGB had missed me and wanted to flag me for some of their fun games.

It was National Scrabble Day so they had a customer contest with C-R-A-N-K-Y-F-L-I-E-R. I was sorry I missed it, but they did send me a photo.

I was greeted there by an assistant station manager who was in San Francisco when I flew through in 2016. It’s amazing how many of these people are still at the airline.

When we went to board the return, the rampers were all out again, handing out lollipops. There’s also one guy on the team who sings like an angel. So he fired up his phone and was serenading us as we all boarded.

I apologized to the guys on the ramp for them having to do this, but they laughed it off. This was definitely an A+ effort from Long Beach.

Southwest 1314
April 13, 2022

Depart Long Beach
➤ Scheduled: 310p, Actual: 309p
➤ From: Gate 8 on Runway 30

Arrive Oakland
➤ Scheduled: 420p, Actual: 420p
➤ At: Gate 20 on Runway 30

Aircraft
➤ Type: Boeing 737-7BD
➤ Delivered: January 12, 2006 to AirTran
➤ Registered: N7720F, msn 33922
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick

Flight
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 14D
➤ Load: ~65% Full
➤ Flight Time: 56m

As I boarded I began chatting with the captain. It turns out he had flown us to San Diego the day before, and he had picked up a completely separate trip the next day which just happened to have us on again. He’d be with us for the last three legs of the day, and he was having fun with it.

On this flight, wifi was less functional but still at least somewhat usable for email. Sort of. My phone was running low on juice, so I had hoped to just plug in on arrival, but then… nope.

As we walked off the airplane, we could hear the thumping beat from music in the gate area. When we walked off, there were streamers at the gate, cupcakes from this place called Cupcakin’ which were delicious, and we were greeted by Oakland’s airport director Bryant Francis along with several others.

The layover was a blur, especially when Dino in the blow up suit showed up. Photos, food, no power outlets, and soon, we were ushered back onboard. For the only time, they let us board early so we were able to get seats up front.

Southwest 1315
April 13, 2022

Depart Oakland
➤ Scheduled: 5p, Actual: 502p
➤ From: Gate 20 on Runway 30

Arrive Orange County
➤ Scheduled: 625p, Actual: 636p
➤ At: Gate 20 on Runway 20R

Aircraft
➤ Type: Boeing 737-7BD
➤ Delivered: January 12, 2006 to AirTran
➤ Registered: N7720F, msn 33922
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick

Flight
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 2A
➤ Load: ~95% Full
➤ Flight Time: 1h 2m

As you may imagine, I was completely wrecked by this point. I sunk into my seat and stared out the window… only to see this:

Was Dino stalking us? I had a good laugh. We got into the air and waved to Candlestick Point for what seemed like the millionth time of the day.

I tried to fire up the internet, but it had become completely unusable. I couldn’t even connect for most of the flight, but when I could, I couldn’t send anything. Maybe some day Southwest will figure out this internet thing.

Henry and I had a Wild Turkey toast on the flight down. It had been a great day that went just like clockwork. But we were just exhausted.

After landing, I loudly joked as we got off that this landing was way better than the last one. Our captain had told me that first officers always do the landing in Orange County since captains had to do the departure, and he had done the prior landing in Oakland. He heard me say it and laughed. We chatted a bit off the airplane before he had to go on to Vegas. Meanwhile, Henry and I made our way to the hotel to eat, work, and sleep before our final day.

23 comments on “Flying The Oakland California Corridor Challenge: ONT-OAK-BUR-OAK-LGB-OAK-SNA (Trip Report)

  1. This was exhausting to read. . . congrats for doing it!

    Also for those that don’t know Porto’s (the treats shown at the BUR airport) is LA basin gold. Some people go to In and Out when here. . .but those that know will crush a few Refugiado every time. Seek them out and you will not be disappointed.

  2. Why no pic of the young Candice Bergen? Very disappointing.

    Aside from that, you must have been shattered after a day like this. I was tired just from reading it all. Seriously, it sounds like a great experience and I do hope that WN takes your comments regarding their internet service to heart. No pun intended……

    1. Stogie – Oh, let me tell you… we tried, but she said she hadn’t properly prepared for a photo, so she wouldn’t let us take one!

  3. Airline lexocon rule 1: it’s an INFLATABLE dino suit, INFLATABLE toy plane, INFLATABLE puppet, etc. LOL LOL

    Years ago I was actually written up for using ‘blow up’ to describe a toy.

        1. I think you’re the greatest, but my dad says you don’t work hard enough on defense. And sometimes you really don’t run down court & you really don’t try except during the playoffs.

  4. CF, it appears we need to take up a small collection to buy you a portable usb charger. They really are rather cheap and quite useful. :)

    Too bad you couldn’t have gotten a Max for the entire day, I know you were hoping for one on the previous day.

      1. But they currently don’t and the prepared person knows this! USB chargers are small, reasonably light and a must-have for the WN flyer. Kind of like checking in at the 24 hour mark, it’s part of the experience.

        1. Its part of the mediocre experience. That game of checking in at the 24 hour mark is borderline customer hostile.

          Besides, if its something that you’re going to use very rarely, why spend the money and ecological damage to get one?

          I have one, because I used to ride transit a lot. I’m not sure I could justify purchasing one now.

  5. This is so cool! I am the Ramp Agent in the beanie holding the sign in your last pic. That was a fun day. Hope to get to meet you next time!

      1. Hey CF!

        Honestly, it was pretty fun! Slighty embarrassing because the other ramp agents laugh at you, but totally fun. ? We were told that “this was for the kids” though… So, after seeing your post I felt deceived. LMAO.

  6. Goodness knows I LUV you cranky; but don’t you think it’s about time you ditched those masks? Especially in light of the fact that they do very little to no good at all? I know you Cali’s love your masks, but with covid never going away, do you intend to keep your mask on for eternity?

    1. Michael – Well, I tend to prefer not breaking federal law. Maybe that’s just me. But also, thanks for telling me what to do. Very helpful.

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