q A Spring Training Day Trip on Southwest (Trip Report) – Cranky Flier

A Spring Training Day Trip on Southwest (Trip Report)

Southwest, Trip Reports

It was time for my annual baseball spring training trip with friends and former colleagues. I missed it last year, so I was determined not to let that happen again. Then I checked airfare. It was not cheap. This is, after all, a day trip so I really want to stick to Long Beach which now means flying Southwest or… Southwest. I waited, and it eventually came down a bit, but at the end of January I still had to plunk down $246.95 for the roundtrip. Good on Southwest for being able to fill those planes with that kind of fare, I guess.

I did not pay for EarlyBird, so my morning and afternoon was bookended by check-ins on the day before travel. I got B13 going out, but there was some kind of glitch on the return and it said I had to see an agent. I tried again and it worked that time, but I had slipped to B25. These were both 737-700s, so I figured I would be ok to get my window seat, but I would have to wait and see.

A low marine layer greeted me when I woke up. I hopped in my car at 7 and parked on the street outside the airport, which you can do for free as long as you don’t stay overnight.

As I walked in, I saw the roadway improvements in the terminal area starting to take shape.

Work on the historic terminal continues to make progress, and the back is now more open to the courtyard area. I can’t wait to see this finished.

The security line was short, and by the time I got to the gate, people had just started lining up in the A group. Once they boarded, I took my spot in the B group, and it wasn’t long before we were moving. The front door had a long line, so I went to the back so I could grab a seat. It’s always the right move in Long Beach.

Southwest 4085
March 22, 2024

From Long Beach
➤ Scheduled Departure: 755a
➤ Actual Departure: 756a
➤ From Gate: 7
➤ Wheels Up: 803a
➤ From Runway: 30

To Phoenix
➤ Wheels Down: 853a
➤ On Runway: 7R
➤ Scheduled Arrival: 915a
➤ Actual Arrival: 901a
➤ At Gate: C9

Aircraft
➤ Type: Boeing 737-7H4
➤ Delivered: April 30, 2004
➤ Registered: N459WN, msn 32497
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick

Flight
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 13A
➤ Load: ~99% Full
➤ Flight Time: 50m

Onboard, I grabbed seat 13A right behind the exit row. The flight attendants seemed to be a more serious bunch, which doesn’t bother me on a morning flight. We finished boarding, but sat a couple of minutes before pushing back.

The captain sounded like a radio DJ, and he was great at keeping us informed. We expected a quick flight, but it was going to be bumpy. The flight attendants said they hoped to be able to get up at altitude to do a quick service.

We got up in the air and through the marine layer in no time. It was actually a smooth climb out. Once we got near our cruising altitude, the bumps picked up. The captain came back on and said that he was sorry, but he wasn’t going to let the flight attendants get up to do a service.

The funny thing is, it smoothed out once we got to cruise, and the expected bumps on descent didn’t really materialize either. That’s the problem with a forecast… you never know how accurate it will be.

After landing, we taxied over to the gate. On the way out, I said congratulations to one of the flight attendants on the new contract. Her response was something like “well, we have to see it and read it first.” Alrighty.

I walked off only to realize that the hat I had hooked on my laptop bag had fallen off. Damnit. I went back to the gate, and the agent didn’t hesitate to go back and found it under the seat for me. Whew, thank you. With that, it was time to head off to a day of fun and…

The view doesn’t get better than that.

After the game, we went to the usual haunt, Four Peaks, for a beer and to hang out. I would have liked to stay longer, but I decided at 5 that it was time to head to the airport for my 6:20pm flight. I called a Lyft and was dropped off in a relatively quiet airport for a Friday night.

The TSA agent was asking everyone a question as he checked IDs. He asked the woman in front of me where she was going, and she said she was heading home to Long Beach. I said “me too!” and I think it threw him. He had to come up with another question for me. (He asked where I stayed while in town, so my answer that this was a day trip didn’t really help.)

This was my first time flying out of the new high D gates. Since the last time I visited, the big food court area at the top of the concourse had opened and was absolutely bustling. The Chase lounge is still not open yet.

I was at the last gate at the end, so I made my way down and grabbed a seat. Our airplane was late getting in, so they only had half hour to turn it.

Then, they announced that a flight attendant had called in sick so they had to find a new one. Ugh. Fortunately, they must have had somebody on ready reserve, because it didn’t take that long before we had our full crew.

In the meantime, I decided to use the restroom, and that’s when I realized that it’s kind of a hike. There is only one restroom, and it’s a massive one at the beginning of the concourse. It’s a different setup than the other concourses, but I suppose it just creates more room for vendors in the concourse itself.

Once back in the gate area, they started boarding a little after the original departure time. By the time I boarded, the jet bridge was backed all the way up. I have no idea what was happening with people on this flight, but it was boarding way, way slower than it should have been. That was odd, and I have no idea why it was so slow.

Southwest 4164
March 22, 2024

From Phoenix
➤ Scheduled Departure: 620p
➤ Actual Departure: 646p
➤ From Gate: D18
➤ Wheels Up: 654p
➤ From Runway: 25R

To Long Beach
➤ Wheels Down: 751p
➤ On Runway: 30
➤ Scheduled Arrival: 740p
➤ Actual Arrival: 755p
➤ At Gate: 11

Aircraft
➤ Type: Boeing 737-7H4
➤ Delivered: October 17, 2005
➤ Registered: N224WN, msn 32493
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick

Flight
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 14A
➤ Load: ~95% Full
➤ Flight Time: 57m

I ended up taking seat 14A on this flight, and somehow we ended up with one of the few empty middles. Huzzah.

The mid-cabin flight attendant was a middle-aged guy who had just the right temperament for this jovial evening crowd. I believe he said his name was Jeff, so that’s what I’m going with. Jeff was talking to everyone and his nature was infectious. At one point, he stood at the exit and said “Is anyone hot?”

It wasn’t hot on the airplane, so nobody responded, just kind of looked around wondering why he was asking this. Then he followed up with “Is anyone just average looking?”

That got a huge laugh, and one guy toward the back raised his hand. The flight attendant thanked him for being honest and said he had a free drink waiting for him. Well played.

We finally did push back 26 minutes late, and as is usually the case in the afternoons, it was a quick taxi to the end of the runway.

On this flight, the pilots came on and said that it had been turbulent all day on this route, but they thought they had found an altitude that would be smooth, emphasizing that they wouldn’t know for sure until we got up there. They hoped the flight attendants would be able to do a service, but they wouldn’t let them up until we reached altitude.

We took off into the sunset and had a delightful view as we chased the fading light. I had flipped on some March Madness using Southwest’s live TV connection, and it was a nice way to pass the time since I hadn’t kept up on anything that happened that day.

We reached our cruising altitude awfully fast. I looked in the flight tracker and sure enough we had leveled at 22,000 feet. This was just below a wispy partial layer of clouds, so it must have been ugly up there for us to fly so low.

It stayed mostly smooth and the flight attendants came through to do the service, only having to sit for about 5 minutes somewhere near the border when it got bumpy.

When Jeff came by, I told him I didn’t need anything. He pronounced loudly that I was now his favorite passenger. I loved this guy.

They had such little time to do the service that we were already well into descent by the time the woman on the aisle in my row got her drink. Shortly after, a flight attendant up front announced that they were sorry, but everyone needed to chug because they had to collect the cups.

As we got lower, the view got better. So I couldn’t believe when the person in front of me shut the window shade on our shared window. I still had one open next to me, but who does that when there is no sun or light shining in your face? I mean, come on. Don’t sit in the window.

It was a nice ride in as we passed along the coast as the last rays of light faded.

After touching down, it was a fast taxi in so we only ended up being 15 minutes late. The back door wasn’t used on this flight, so when it was my turn to get off, I stopped briefly to again tell the flight attendants congratulations on the new contract. Unlike that morning, my new best friend Jeff put out his fist for a fist bump and said thank you.

I was off for a brisk walk back to my car and then a short drive home.

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26 comments on “A Spring Training Day Trip on Southwest (Trip Report)

  1. As you’re approaching landing, the person in front of you lowers her windows shade! In what world is that legal?

    Having retired to Malta 5 years ago, I fly LH four or five trips a year. Upon preparing for takeoff and landings, an FA will always announce shades up. And then they come by and chastise anyone who does not cooperate.
    Alan

    1. In the United States thats legal!

      The US (as a country) has no regulations that require window shades to be raised for take off and landing except for I think maybe the exit row.

      I find it disorienting and potentially dangerous that we dont require window shades to be raised for take off and landing in the US.
      Recently; I was sitting in a middle seat in row 11 on a Boeing 737 that’s missing a window and we had a quite hard landing which took us by surprise and was definately worse because the row was missing a window and everyone had shut the shades on surrounding windows so there was no way to see even off in the distance that we were landjng.

      I then had a conversation with the uber-elite (the flight attendants kept checking on him) gentleman sitting next to me and we both agreed that it’s crazy the US doesn’t require window shades to be up for take off and landing.

      This happened on one of my final domestic legs after an International trip where earlier on Fiji Airways, an airline that has a window shades must be raised regulation the flight attendants were strictly enforcing it and a Mom was yelling at her kid behind me for lowering/playing with their window shade during take off.

      1. One extra detail – many of the shades are fairly flimsy and prone to getting stuck. High stresses on the airframe (which could be anything other than a successful takeoff or landing) can distort the window frame enough that the shade will no longer open.
        Seems like a small thing, but things happen and being able to look out in an emergency should not be taken for granted.

        If the plane is in motion with gear down – shades are up.

    2. Like SubwayNut said, it’s insane that this is legal in the US.

      Same country where the FAA overegulates UA for safety incidents yet ignore similar accidents that occurred on competitors

      1. Absolutely agree with you! Last year AA was making announcements, that no one paid attention to, asking that the window shades be open for take-off and landing, and they appear to have changed it this year to emergency rows only. Not alone did no one pay attention, but the requirement wasn’t enforced either. IMHO it’s not rocket science – the needs to have window shades open for take-off and landing are quite obvious – so what am I missing here? Foreign flags require it. Is this another example of NIIMBY? (For this not familiar with the acronym – Not Invented In My Back Yard)

        1. Ha – my hard landing happened on American landing at DFW.

          I know United also briefly tried to make it a requirement too in the pandemic.

        2. Not nimbyism but it’s definitely the same sort of attitude.

          And like nimbyism the consequences are let’s say not good.

    1. I’m well aware, and woof, Nelson threw a stinker last night. Good news is that E-Rod and Montgomery will be ready soon enough…

    2. The Yankees are hot right now. There’s still a long way to go.

      Both the Yankees and D-backs play in tough divisions. That makes them tough if/when they get into the playoffs. The D-backs showed what can happen when a team gets into the playoffs and then gets hot.

      As disappointed as I was about the World Series last year, I’m happy for the Rangers; fans. Even though I’ve lived in the Phoenix area for almost 50 years, growing up as a Cubs fan, I understand what it’s like not to win for a long time.

  2. I had a recent SW flight where the FA made the same “is anybody hot?” comments. He was quite the comedian. Maybe it was Jeff?

  3. The turbulence forecast has been pretty accurate this past week; flew ORD-LHR last Tuesday evening, sporadic moderate (anything but) turbulence predicted from Nova Scotia onwards for two hours – it was like being in an imbalanced washing machine. The onset of the turbulence and the duration was spot on. Funny how a 767 doesn’t seem very big when it starts getting thrown around.

    1. It actually is the perfect description of this version of WN’s livery. Especially when I think back to how Hot-Dog-On-A-Stick employees dressed back in the 80s and 90s (less white and more blue/red/yellow).

  4. It’s amazing how Southwest can get such a revenue premium without having seat back TVs. LOL

    I could be wrong, but it looks like you went to Hohokam Park. The A’s don’t usually draw as well as other Cactus League teams, so that’s usually a safe choice.

    The Cactus League has become big business. When I moved to the Valley, there were only 8 teams and the ballparks were much smaller. And the current Hohokam Park wasn’t even there. Now, half of the major league teams train in the Phoenix area. The old Hohokam Park only held about 5,000 fans, about half the number the current park can handle. When the park was first opened, there were no houses visible over the outfield wall. Now, there are a lot of them. I remember going to a Cubs/Dodgers game at the old Hohokam Park late in the season when 6.000 fans were stuffed in there. The Dodgers still trained at Vero Beach, Florida back then, and were making the trip west to start the season. Now the Dodgers train at Camelback Ranch in Glendale (outside of Phoenix), which is much closer to L.A.

    1. Ghost – Yup, that’s Hohokam. It’s a great park for us to visit, because we get a group of around 50 each year. So we can usually get that with no trouble. Parking is nice and tailgating is perfect under the trees on the grass.

      My favorite used to be Muni back when I lived in walking distance. But now, I love me some Maryvale. Though I’m a Dbacks fan, I have little interest in Salt River Fields. I like the smaller more relaxed parks.

      1. Maryvale is a great little ballpark. The Arizona State Sun Devils play at Phoenix Muni now. Both Salt River fields and Sloan Park are nice, but they’re usually very crowded. So is Scottsdale Stadium, where the Giants play. I remember the old wooden (that’s right. wooden) Scottsdale Stadium. It seated all of 4,000 fans and was rarely filled on weekdays. No pun intended (well…maybe) but it’s a whole different ball game now in the Cactus League.

    2. Seeing as Southwest was the only airline who flew this route, I’m sure having no competition helped

      1. @A220,

        Really? I never could have guessed! LOL! Sorry about the sarcasm. Nothing personal.

        I’m guessing you either didn’t see the “LOL” after my initial sentence – or you willfully ignored it. I was being a bit facetious.

        But seriously, I subscribe to the old fashioned idea that **getting people from one point to another safely** is supposed to be the main function of an airline. It’s not showing movies or TV shows on tiny screens mounted on the backs of seats, Apparently safety is taken for granted by some airline commentators. to some of them, airline travel is only about points, credit cards, food, bedding, amenity kits, TV screens, etc. Being on time? Getting safely from one place to another? Who cares? Those minor details don’t seem to matter. But they might be important to the people and families of those who were killed or scared by doors blowing out in recent airline accidents and incidents.

        1. Lol all good. Did not detect the sarcasm.

          Safety and OTP definitely matter the most. There are various airlines that have failed or are failing because of this such as TWA and B6.

  5. I’ve had open warfare over what happened to you upon approach. And, like you, I don’t get why people (usually women) slam that shade down like this. And, worse yet, have the nerve to do it on a window that’s more mine than theirs (as in your case).

    If a glorious view scares you, sit in the damn aisle.

    1. Do any of you who advocate for open shades bother to close them when there’s intense sun coming through the window? Asking for a friend.

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Cranky Flier