It was time to get back into the air again, this time for a Cranky Concierge gathering in Phoenix. The timing for this worked out perfectly since I booked it during the Southwest companion pass promo. For $137.95 roundtrip, I gained a companion pass through the winter… that I probably won’t use.
While the companion pass promo did get me to book earlier than I otherwise would have, it didn’t change my plans. After all, American has gotten into a nasty habit of trying to take a significant premium, usually at least $50 one way, over Southwest in this market. What do I get for $50 more? I get to fly Mesa. No thanks.
I checked in the day before and got B12 which I knew would get me a window, so I was happy. It was an early flight, so I knew I wasn’t getting a ride from my wife… I just took a Lyft.
At the airport, I was excited to see that the old baggage makeup area has been dismantled so you can see where the backside of the historic terminal will open up. I can’t wait until this is done.
The TSA Precheck line was maybe 10 deep, but only about 4 of those in line actually had Precheck. It was one of those mornings where a frustrated officer came out to check everyone’s boarding passes, because so many were in the wrong line.
On the other side of security, I sat outside in the morning darkness. My flight was at gate 5 so I could see the airplane right in front of me. I just waited until I saw people walking up the ramp from my courtyard view until I wandered over to get in line.
I had to stop on the way up the ramp to take a photo of a rare bird. This airplane is the temporary holder of the Heroine of the Heart dedication for founder and former president Colleen Barrett. The last one — which was in the original desert gold colors — was retired and a new MAX has just been rolled out, so this was a short-term stand-in.
October 23, 2022
From Long Beach
➤ Scheduled Departure: 705a
➤ Actual Departure: 7a
➤ From Gate: 5
➤ Wheels Up: 709a
➤ From Runway: 30
➤ Wheels Down: 805a
➤ On Runway: 25R
➤ Scheduled Arrival: 825a
➤ Actual Arrival: 829a
➤ At Gate: C17
➤ Type: Boeing 737-7H4
➤ Delivered: February 13, 2007
➤ Registered: N266WN, msn 32523
➤ Livery: Canyon Blue “Colleen Barrett – Heroine of the Heart”
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 20A
➤ Load: ~99% Full
➤ Flight Time: 56m
This flight was full of families, and while I can often find an empty orphaned window towards the front, that was not the case on this flight. I headed back to row 20 and took a seat behind the wing.
The captain came on to give us the good and bad news. The good news is that it was going to be a very fast trip at 49 minutes. The bad news is that it was going to be bumpy. He said he was keeping the flight attendants seated the whole flight and there would be no service.
The bumps started soon after takeoff as we climbed over Long Beach, but then once above 10,000 feet, they smoothed out nicely into just a light chop the whole way as we cruised at 27,000 feet.
When we started our descent, the captain came on to say we got lucky at cruise altitude since it was not a bad ride at all. That’s what happens on those early morning flights when there just aren’t many ride reports available. But he said the descent would be rough… just as the bronco started bucking.
During the descent, it really only bounced around for a minute or so. Then it smoothed out even as the clouds thickened.
The only real downside was that the winds forced us to circle around and land to the west, slowing us down compared to the usual straight in approach.
Once we landed, we were sent to the penalty box. We were early, yes, but apparently a belt loader got stuck and they had to fix it before pushing the airplane off our gate.
It took a few minutes to get that sorted, but we blocked in only 4 minutes late.
On the return, I had completely forgotten to check in at 24 hours. I realized this as a bunch of us on the team were sitting around, and everyone huddled around to laugh at me getting stuck with a C boarding pass. But then… MIRACLE. I got B11.
We all woke up in the morning to word that Phoenix had a ground stop and delays were mounting thanks to a fire in ATC. Gulp. We had 12 people flying out, many with connections, and this was not great. Happily, they sorted it quickly, and the morning delays ended up being relatively light.
I, however, did end up with a delay as my airplane slowed down in Florida to start the day. I was the last one flying out of Phoenix that day, but I went early with another coworker. This gave me a little time to meet Abby, one of the PHX Navigator Buddies who is there to help soothe the frazzled traveler by offering love and demanding ear scratches.
After passing through security, I took a seat and worked. The wifi was humming.
Our airplane finally arrived and I had hoped for some hustling on turning us around quickly, but it was not to be. There were several wheelchair passengers, and it took a long time to get them situated. Then we boarded in a leisurely way.
October 26, 2022
➤ Scheduled Departure: 410p
➤ Actual Departure: 446p
➤ From Gate: D8
➤ Wheels Up: 455p
➤ From Runway: 25R
To Long Beach
➤ Wheels Down: 556p
➤ On Runway: 30
➤ Scheduled Arrival: 530p
➤ Actual Arrival: 601p
➤ At Gate: 5
➤ Type: Boeing 737-76Q
➤ Delivered: November 7, 2001
➤ Registered: N550WN, msn 30279
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 13A
➤ Load: ~75% Full
➤ Flight Time: 1h1m
I got on the airplane and took a window right behind the exit row. I don’t know what it is about Southwest in Phoenix, but this was a very dirty airplane with trash on the seat and crumbs all around. This is not the first time I’ve had this issue there.
I was apparently surrounded by clean freaks. The person next to me pulled out an army of wipes and started wiping down absolutely everything within her vicinity. Then I heard the person in the window behind me complain that her window shade wouldn’t pull down. When her friend said they could just move, she responded that no, she had already cleaned this space thoroughly. (I would have suggested she should move out of the window if she wanted her shade down anyway. For shame.)
It was a very nice late afternoon made even nicer when the middle seat stayed open. We pushed back and soon we were airborne with no wait. Not long after takeoff, we took an odd, hard right turn.
I’m not sure what that was all about, but the sun shone in on my aisle-mates face during the turn, and she wildly flailed at me to put my window shade down. Of course, that only lasted for a few seconds anyway until we settled back in.
There were some fluffy high clouds just underneath us as we again flew relatively low at 28,000 feet. I had turned on some live TV, but there wasn’t much to watch. I stuck with the Masked Singer for awhile until I couldn’t stand it anymore, and then tried to shift to music. The system just wasn’t working very well for me, so I gave up.
They did a standard beverage service, but I didn’t take anything. I just closed my eyes and enjoyed the slow descent all the way into Long Beach.