Heading to Phoenix for the World Series (Trip Report)

Southwest, Trip Reports

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.

Southwest 2974
October 30, 2023

From Long Beach
➤ Scheduled Departure: 905a
➤ Actual Departure: 900a
➤ From Gate: 8
➤ Wheels Up: 911a
➤ From Runway: 30

To Phoenix
➤ 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.

Southwest 513
October 31, 2023

From Phoenix
➤ 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.

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17 comments on “Heading to Phoenix for the World Series (Trip Report)

  1. I was sorely disappointed that there was no winglet aesthetic commentary, although one might argue your photo without comments spoke volumes.

    1. Now that you mentioned it, I had to look, and now I’m a little bothered by it… Looks like the winglet decal has a straight bottom on the Max, but went all the way down to the curve of the end of the wing on the non-Max. I prefer the latter; a concave gap of white space under the straight-bottomed winglet decal isn’t very aesthetically pleasing to my eyes, and just seems like someone took the lazy/easy route with a straight bottom edge.

  2. This had to be the weirdest baseball season I could ever remember. The Dodgers, Rays, Giants, Jays, Mets, Yankees & Braves were all expected to do well & they all fell flat. That’s especially true for the teams in NYC as I’m a Yankees fan & we in a word… sucked.

    1. I fly JFK-SNA regularly. I enjoy the AA flight. In economy you get a cheese plate and can fly a transcon to a secondary airport. Good luck getting the cheese plate or flying a non stop transcon on SWA. Each airline has their purpose.

  3. Seems like playoff baseball and CF don’t mix. Sorry to see you got 2 of the more miserable games this postseason but a great effort from the Diamondbacks this season.

    Also, I saw on Twitter (or X or whatever it is this week) those departure boards at PHX and it looked like half of the flights were cancelled at first glance.

    Enjoyed the TR as always!

  4. I know that heading to the 44th Street station is the best way to avoid the lunacy of traffic at PHX. Have you taken a Waymo journey yet while in town??? We LOVE it.

    1. Sheila – I haven’t, but my family has used it, and my kids did it when visiting them as well. I hear it’s great, and I’ve seen ’em all over.

  5. I’ve had similar experiences on Southwest recently. If things are running smoothly (and we know that’s a big if), it’s hard to beat their efficiency and service. I also appreciate the graham crackers over salty death mix in the mornings and the rare occasions when they have brownie brittle. Recently got to experience ground boarding for the first time (BUR) and my first Max; both were awesome. And I would still pick Southwest over American almost any day. I love that you got to see a World Series game. Thanks for taking us along.

    1. Once won Yankees divisional game 5 playoff tickets against the A’s several years ago. Needless to say the Yanks won & it was thrilling to see the old stadium rocking the way it was. They won it all that year.

  6. I fly a lot of ~1 hr segments on Southwest. Anecdotally, I feel like about 50% of the time, a pilot says “We’re expecting turbulence and will ask the FAs to stay seated” — far more than I seem to get any similar announcement on longer segments.

    My inner conspiracy theorist thinks that this is the pilot cutting the FAs a break on short segments. But other positive comments here suggest I might just have bad luck. Do other people see this?

  7. Hi!, That “two-chime ding” meant a communication between forward and aft galley, surely coordinating the inflight service to begin at the same time from both sides. A single chime is from the flight deck and once the service is done, seatbelt sign is on. Bear in mind that westbound flights usually get some headwind; adding precious minutes to the cruise portion of the flight, in order to properly get the service done. Eastbounds with a lot of tailwind, makes it hard and unsafe for crews to run through the cabin, especially with hot drinks, when the cruise portion is so small. It’s mainly a matter of safety. ;) Kindest regards!! Rafael

  8. Late to the party here. I flew all over North America from DTW for work before I retired about 10 years ago and never flew on LCCC’s like Spirit and have had very little need to travel by air since then. This summer I had a trip from Cleveland to to San Diego and decided to go on Frontier because they had the only nonstop. About 3 weeks before the flight they dropped the extended legroom seat option from $150 to $75 so I jumped on that. I believe the aircraft was an A321neo. The only place by the gate that sold food didn’t have anything that I liked, so I figured I’d just get a large drink and buy a sandwich on the plane–Wrong! All they had was meager snack boxes for $8 (I did bring a few things with me). I noticed you didn’t even get a glass of water for free.

    Due to circumstances beyond my control, I ended up returning on Southwest and, to my amazement, despite all of the histrionics about how air travel has deteriorated, it was virtually identical to my recollection of travelling on Southwest over 10 years ago. The seats on the 737-800 were very roomy and the overall experience was much more pleasant. I know a lot of people don’t like Southwest because you can’t reserve a specific seat, however you can pay extra to pre-board. All they need to do now is require people to show their handicap parking placards before they can get a wheelchair!

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