I left off last week with Hawaiian canceling my flight home from Kahului, and the reaccommodation options weren’t good. Fortunately for me, with Maui tourism still down, there were a bunch of options to get me back to LAX. No, it wasn’t Long Beach, but it was close enough in a pinch. And of all the options, I chose Southwest.
I decided to fly Southwest since the flight time was very similar to what I had previously, and I had some Southwest miles to kill. Even though the flight looked pretty full onboard, Southwest inexplicably had every bucket wide open the day prior. It was just over 13,000 points one way which I think means it was about $180. This was a steal just a day before travel.
Fortunately, Hawaiian had canceled our flight with about 27 hours to spare, so that meant I could get us all checked in at the 24 hour market. We scored B10 and B11 which I figured would be good for a window/middle together pretty easily.
Security lines were light at the airport, and we trudged down the hallway to the gates furthest to the south where Southwest has taken over. It looks like they are finally enclosing the hallways down that way, something that wasn’t the case previously. I’m not sure if new gates are being added as well, but it seems possible.
The Southwest gate area had three holdrooms all connected, and they weren’t that busy. While finding a seat was easy, there was none of the usual Southwest charging station infrastructure. We were left fighting for the few wall plugs that were conveniently nowhere near the seats. We weren’t the only ones, especially since Southwest has no power onboard for a very long flight. I’ll assume this is the airport’s fault for not allowing it, but it sucks.
Boarding began, and I started getting nervous about my boarding position. There was a tidal wave of pre-boarders, and many more were lined up for family boarding after the A group. There were definitely families taking advantage with kids over 6 years of age and pre-boarders who didn’t look very disabled. It’s a hard one to police, I know, but it seemed pretty ridiculous.
October 10, 2023
➤ Scheduled Departure: 1130a
➤ Actual Departure: 1123a
➤ From Gate: 3
➤ Wheels Up: 1132a
➤ From Runway: 2
To Los Angeles
➤ Wheels Down: 713p
➤ On Runway: 25L
➤ Scheduled Arrival: 745p
➤ Actual Arrival: 724p
➤ At Gate: 9
➤ Type: Boeing 737-8 MAX
➤ Delivered: January 26, 2016
➤ Registered: N8701Q, msn 42554
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 7A
➤ Load: ~99% Full
➤ Flight Time: 4h41m
The airplane was more full than it should have been by that point, but we were able to find a window/middle in row 7, the only downside being the dude in the aisle was not a small man. Still, it wasn’t bad at all.
As we waited for boarding to finish, we were treated to a symphony. There were a good 6 or 7 babies scattered around that somehow decided to scream in unison on occasion and just individually at other times. It lasted the entire flight, and even after we got off in LA. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before. Here’s a sampling for you.
We loaded up and pushed back a little early. Those gates are right near the runway threshold, so we were airborne in short order. The captain told us that it was expected to be bumpy for the first 35 minutes, and he’d have the crew remain seated. It turns out that it was not at all bumpy, but the crew was up and running about half an hour in as promised.
In the meantime, I was about to try to use the inflight entertainment on my phone when the flight attendant announced they knew there was a problem and they were rebooting. Uh oh.
The crew came by to take drink orders and hand out phone holders.
Oh wait, that was actually just a snack pack with Wheat Thins, a cheese spread, salty death mix, and fruit snacks, but since the seats have no place to put your phone, I used the empty snack packs to prop my phone up.
Then, I was ready to try the IFE, but it did not work. I kept getting a variety of different errors ranging from an internal server error to a gateway timeout and then just a “this page isn’t working” error in Chrome. I kept trying and eventually it would load, but it was fleeting.
At one point, I was able to watch some baseball on live tv, but it would go for about 10 seconds before the picture froze. I could switch channels and come back and it would work a couple times, but it was always the same result of a frozen picture. I gave up and tried to look at the moving map. After a few reloads it worked, but it showed us going from Austin to Dallas and at one point said we have 8h 52m left. So while our position on the map was right, nothing else was.
I quit and just listened to some music I had on my phone for a bit… anything to keep the screaming babies out of my head.
After an hour, I decided to try again. This time, I was able to get into the streaming movie area after a few reload attempts and I coaxed the Sebastian Maniscalco movie About My Father to play. It did pause a few times for buffering which was annoying, but somehow I got through it eventually. That was a good way to pass the time.
After that, I kept trying to do other things in the system, but it didn’t work. I called it quits and turned music back on. I never even bothered trying wifi since I figured if even the stuff onboard didn’t work, I’d just end up having to ask for an $8 refund for wifi. Forget it.
As is always the case when heading east, night approached quickly… but so did the coast. We flew just south of San Nicolas Island and over Catalina before turning north and flying just east of Long Beach. With no parachute available, I opted to just deal with LAX.
The marine layer was creeping back in which allowed me to take this eerie photo on final approach.
We landed and taxied back to the infamous gate 9 which still sticks out like a random stub from what will eventually be the connector to concourse 0.
Not wanting to wait around for a rideshare, we hopped in a taxi and headed home.