Game 5 of the NLCS may have been awful, but games 6 and 7 were incredible and the Diamondbacks moved on to the World Series. When the presale for the World Series happened long before it was certain the Dbacks would even be there, I pounced and bought tickets to game 3, the first home game. I was at the first World Series game in Phoenix back in 2001 with my dad, and I knew we’d want to repeat that if the opportunity presented itself. I also bought some $88 each way flights on Southwest from Long Beach knowing that worst case I’d have some credits for future use. This was a great plan.
There’s nothing quite like flying out of LAX to Phoenix a week earlier to help me truly appreciate the Long Beach experience. And honestly, flying American the week before also made me appreciate Southwest for shorter flights like this.
Even though my flight from Long Beach was scheduled to depart 21 minutes earlier than my LAX flight the week prior, I was still able to leave home a half hour later. (Keep in mind, the LAX trip was an early Saturday morning with no traffic. During the week, I’d have needed another half hour for that one.)
I parked in the the longish-term lot B (which has now climbed to $20 a day), and walked toward the terminal which is still in a state of repair.
There’s been good progress on restoring the original terminal building, and a door was open for me to sneak a peak. I can’t wait to see the finished product when it opens next year.
There were two people ahead of me in the TSA Precheck line, so I was through quickly. I did get randomly selected by the magnetometer though, so they swabbed my hands. The agent watching the scanned bags poked his head out and, looking at my Diamondbacks cap, and said with a smile “it selected you because of your hat!” Dodger fans….
As usual, I was there too early, so I went to the far end of the terminal which had some empty seating. I didn’t stay long, because there was some older woman walking around the seats in circles, either burning off nervous energy or getting in her version of exercise. I didn’t need to be in the middle of her routine.
They called for boarding, and I had scored my absolute favorite number, A60. There is no number in the Southwest system that is so much better than the number immediately after. Since Southwest lets families and A-Listers board after the A group, there can be a big gulf between seats available at A60 and those at B1.
Someone lined up behind me, and I told her that I was A60 so she should go ahead. She said it didn’t matter, we’d all have a place to sit. It was a friendly group.
The line at the front boarding door was long, so I just kept on going toward the back stairs which were empty. You have to love boarding in the back since it happens so rarely.
October 30, 2023
From Long Beach
➤ Scheduled Departure: 905a
➤ Actual Departure: 900a
➤ From Gate: 8
➤ Wheels Up: 911a
➤ From Runway: 30
➤ Wheels Down: 1005a
➤ On Runway: 7R
➤ Scheduled Arrival: 1025a
➤ Actual Arrival: 1010a
➤ At Gate: C18
➤ Type: Boeing 737-8 MAX
➤ Delivered: January 16, 2023
➤ Registered: N8837Q, msn 67485
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 19A
➤ Load: ~85% Full
➤ Flight Time: 54m
Once onboard, I just kept walking forward to the furthest forward available window. I parked myself in row 10… only to realize that there was no actual window there. So I got up and went back to row 19 instead. Oops.
It’s funny that it took me so many years to get on my first MAX, and now this is the second one in a month. This one was delivered earlier this year and looked to be in great shape. It still didn’t have the new interior with the power, though the mood-lighting was in full effect with an apparent Christmas theme?
Once we boarded up, I had an empty middle next to me. It’s always welcome, but honestly, the legroom is so good on these airplanes that you don’t really need it. It’s noticeably different than sitting in the back on American, even for a 5’8″ person like me.
We pushed back a few minutes early and made our way down to the end of the runway. After a short wait, we were in the air and on our way toward Phoenix. It was another clear morning thanks to the Santa Ana winds blowing the marine layer out to sea.
I have to say that I recommend alternating flights between 737NGs and MAXs, because after last week’s flight on the NG, I appreciated just how much quieter the MAX engines are this time. It really is such a nice ride.
The flight attendants came through with a full beverage service (yes, even hot drinks), but I didn’t need anything. They also handed out a snack and… BEHOLD… it wasn’t the salty death mix.
I’m so glad they’ve pulled that off morning flights, because it was just not a good fit for that time of day. There’s now a cinnamon graham cracker thing that’s much better.
The seatbelt sign was off at altitude and stayed that way until we were already well into our descent. It was delightfully quiet on this flight. That happens when the flight attendants don’t spend half of it trying to pitch credit cards. We took the same route into Phoenix as the week prior, but this time I opted to snap a selfie with Chase Field in the background.
We touched down and had a very quick taxi to gate C18 at the end of the C gates. Off the airplane, I noticed that the airport was supporting the hometown team with some Sedona Red and black screens.
I hopped on the SkyTrain to 44th and got a ride. From there, it was time to get ready for the game. There is nothing like attending a World Series game, so even though this game was again downright terrible as a Dbacks fan, it was certainly worth the trip.
We can keep this airplane-related too, thanks to the F-35 flyover before the start.
After another miserable result, I took that as a sign that the baseball gods were telling me to go home, so I did the next morning. It turns out, however, that it didn’t matter where I was. (Congrats, Ranger fans on finally getting to the top of that mountain).
This time, I had checked in and got myself B20 which would still be perfectly fine for snagging a window. It felt like a repeat of the week prior. I got to the airport an hour early, took the SkyTrain over, and then went looking for the best security option. The TSA Precheck line at the C gates was basically empty so I went there and slow-walked my way over to C13 where my plane had just arrived from Minneapolis/St Paul.
The friendly agent said the flight had about 35 open seats, and boarding was going smoothly until two wheelchair passengers showed up just after the A group. He hustled to get them down and on the airplane, and then boarding continued.
October 31, 2023
➤ Scheduled Departure: 825a
➤ Actual Departure: 825a
➤ From Gate: C13
➤ Wheels Up: 842a
➤ From Runway: 7L
To Long Beach
➤ Wheels Down: 938a
➤ On Runway: 30
➤ Scheduled Arrival: 950a
➤ Actual Arrival: 941a
➤ At Gate: 9
➤ Type: Boeing 737-8H4
➤ Delivered: October 18, 2017
➤ Registered: N8549Z, msn 63597
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 12F
➤ Load: ~80% Full
➤ Flight Time: 56m
I was greeted by “Thing 1” as I walked on the airplane.
He had a bucket of Halloween candy that he was handing out, though he did gently scold me when I didn’t say “trick or treat.” I looked in the bucket and jokingly said “no Wild Turkey?” He said I could have one later, but I really didn’t want it at that early hour anyway.
I found a window seat in front of the wing on our 737-800, and once again the middle stayed open. During the safety briefing, Thing 1 introduced his fellow crew as Thing 2, Thing 3, and Thing 4 with Things 5 and 6 up in the cockpit.
Despite the boarding delay, we pushed back right on time and then did the long slog down to the other end of the airport for departure.
We were up in the air quickly and climbed through light chop up to altitude as we pointed ourselves west. The flight attendants did not get up until we reached cruise altitude. There was a two-chime ding and then they sprung into action, so I assume turbulence was expected and they had to stay seated.
Despite the late start, the flight attendants made no excuses as they raced through and got everyone their drinks and snacks. I didn’t want anything, but I did note that it was a real contrast to the week before on American.
Just as the last drink was being delivered, Thing 2 (or 1? I can’t remember) got on the horn and said the captain told them it would be a bumpy approach so they had to clean up early. Basically “chug ’em if you got ’em” and they again raced back through the cabin to collect the goods. They may not have had to work for long on this short hop, but they sure worked hard.
As we got to around 10,000 feet (near where we passed by the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside above), Thing 2 got on the PA and started singing “I’ve got sunshiiiiine, on a cloudy day….” It was weird, until she got to the chorus and replaced “My Girl” with “Southwest.” People were laughing. She then went into a little talk mixed with snippets of songs where she said that a lot of people in the world were hurting so everyone should be kind and smile for each other, after all, a smile is easier than a frown and botox is expensive. I’m not doing this justice at all, but it was really well done, and she got applause all around.
It wasn’t all that bumpy until we descended over the Santa Ana Mountains. That’s when those Santa Ana wind gusts funneling through the canyons grabbed us and started pushing us around. It wasn’t anything scary, though the mom behind me was trying to comfort her young son who seemed a little nervous about it. I turned around and pointed out Disneyland to try and help distract him as we passed by, and his eyes lit up. Apparently that’s where they were heading.
Back on the ground, I was reminded that it was Halloween when a land shark guided us into our parking spot.
On the way out, I got another look at the back of the old terminal. They’ve started to pull up the boards blocking the view.
The World Series may not have ended well, but I’m sure glad I went to game 3. I’m also really glad I flew from Long Beach this time on Southwest, because it makes everything that much easier.