I had to go up to Oakland for a quick overnight business trip, so the airline I’d take wasn’t in question. Being able to fly from Long Beach meant that there was no other option to even bother considering. The flight up went like clockwork, but the return? Southwest could do a better job managing gates in Oakland, because we had a completely avoidable delay.
This trip was booked in late May for a mere $117.95 roundtrip. As always, I didn’t book EarlyBird and just planned to check myself in 24 hours out. On the way up, I didn’t see my reminder to check-in until a few minutes after time, but I still ended up with B2. I figured that meant this flight would be fairly empty, and I wasn’t wrong.
For an overnight trip, I just park in the long term garage. I left home 55 minutes before departure, walked from the garage, and then I got nervous. The security line was about as long as I’ve ever seen in Long Beach.
Had I finally cut it too close? Nope. The TSA Precheck line was only a couple people deep, and I sailed on through. Let this be a lesson, kids. Make sure you have Precheck.
On the other side, I had once again arrived too early, so I sat outside and watched the airplanes until it was time to board, both because I love sitting outside but also because it was a busy day in the concourse itself.
On the way out to the airplane, I noticed this was quite the vintage bird, marked to celebrate former Ops exec Donald Ogden. You could see the eyebrow window plugs, and it could have used a new coat of paint, but I suppose they should finish painting all the airplanes in this livery before that happens.
July 20, 2022
Depart Long Beach
➤ Scheduled: 850a, Actual: 847a
➤ From: Gate 7 on Runway 30
➤ Scheduled: 1005a, Actual: 954a
➤ At: Gate 4 on Runway 30
➤ Type: Boeing 737-7H4
➤ Delivered: August 4, 2003
➤ Registered: N439WN, msn 29834
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 8A
➤ Load: ~55% Full
➤ Flight Time: 52m
I was flying with a coworker on this trip, and we grabbed row 8 on the left side. The flight was empty enough that we had an empty middle, and all was right in the world.
There wasn’t much to say about the flight itself. We took off, we flew north, we were served salty death mix, and then we were descending. The one thing I will point out is the fancy new and improved map in the Southwest app. This is much better.
I particularly enjoyed the view out the window, so I could recreate… what I could see myself. Though it didn’t really look like the same place.
We descended through a thin marine layer and landed.
I had only mild PTSD after my last Oakland adventure, but I quickly relaxed once I realized I didn’t have five more flights that day. We were off to do work.
That afternoon, I checked in on time, but I ended up with B20. Ah, a more full flight, I see. But I generally assume that anything below B30 will get me a window when I’m traveling alone, so I wasn’t fazed.
I was at the A’s game at the Coliseum before the flight home, so I was able to just walk out the back of the stadium, cross over some really scenic views of warehousing and empty parking lots, and hop on the cable car to the airport.
That was hugely convenient, but I didn’t realize it was a whopping $6.70 per person for the short ride.
My flight was posted at gate 8A which is one of the few gates Southwest uses in Terminal 1, so I went into that terminal and waited in a very lengthy security line. It took 10 minutes to get through TSA Precheck, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on. At one point, they closed the Precheck ID check line, then they opened it with a new security lane. For some reason I had to bring a crumpled paper with me to that new lane showing I was Precheck, but I’m pretty sure everyone in that line was. So… I dunno.
Our gate had moved over to 10, which is right next door. I went over there and took a seat. Out the window I could see an airplane heading to Vegas that was not moving off the gate. Nothing happened, and our departure time was creeping closer….
Then, a gate announcement… “we’re sorry but the Long Beach flight has been moved to gate 21.” Ouch. That is one of the closer gates in Terminal 2, at least, and there is a behind-security connector. But it was still a bit of a hike to get everyone over there. People were hurrying, but really, they shouldn’t have been. By the time I ambled over, the last airplane at the gate was just pushing off.
Our airplane, meanwhile, spent more than half an hour on the ground just waiting around for a place to park. There were a lot of open gates in the high 20s/low 30s, so I’m surprised they didn’t put us there earlier. Maybe they aren’t staffed to use those gates at that time of the day, or maybe they thought going to the high 20s was a step too far… literally. I’m not sure. But this was a delay that could have been avoided.
Meanwhile, people slowly got off our airplane, and there was one agent working the door who seemed to be in no hurry at all to get us going. We started boarding around scheduled departure time, and I was really surprised to find when I got on that seat 4A was open and waiting for me.
July 21, 2022
➤ Scheduled: 425p, Actual: 453p
➤ From: Gate 21 on Runway 30
Arrive Long Beach
➤ Scheduled: 545p, Actual: 606p
➤ At: Gate 7 on Runway 30
➤ Type: Boeing 737-7H4
➤ Delivered: July 11, 2005
➤ Registered: N219WN, msn 32490
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 4A
➤ Load: ~85% Full
➤ Flight Time: 1h02m
Once I was in my seat, the flight attendants announced that the flight was nearly full, so people should just take any seat. Somehow, 4B stayed open, and my seatmate and I, an older lady with noise canceling headphones on, were both pleased.
It was, as usual, a quick taxi out and then we were soon in the air. There is nothing better than sitting on the left side while climbing out of Oakland. First you get that beautiful view of the city.
Then it’s time for that oh-so-scenic turn over SFO.
I had some drink coupons, so when the flight attendant came by, I decided I could use a little Wild Turkey. I asked my seatmate if she wanted a drink, and she said she had plenty of coupons herself, but thanked me.
We started descending just before Santa Barbara and went out over the water before looping around over Catalina and landing. We parked at the very same gate from which I had departed the day before, so it felt like a symmetrical end to a quick and productive trip.