Saying Goodbye to Oakland Baseball (Trip Report)

Southwest, Trip Reports

There are few things better than spending a nice summer day watching major league baseball, but for the people of Oakland, that privilege is about to go away. It’s the end of an era, and some of my baseball-loving friends and I decided to make one last pilgrimmage to say goodbye to the Coliseum and the Oakland A’s before they leave town at the end of this season. It was a quick trip on Southwest, but it was a mixed bag of an experience.

This was always planned as a day trip. We just had to find a day game on a weekend, and then we’d be all set. It turns out that June 8 with a 1:07pm start against the Blue Jays was the best option. But what about flights? We’re all Long Beach locals, so we wanted to fly from there, but the return times just weren’t great.

If you figure the game is over at 4, anything after about 5:30pm would be playing it safe. There was a 6:20pm to LAX but we’d have to wait until 7:45pm to get back to Long Beach. There wouldn’t be much traffic on a Saturday night, so we went with LAX. To make it even easier, I plunked down $53.99 to be able to park in the Terminal 1 parking lot. For a day trip, it’s a no-brainer. After dropping 10,410 Rapid Rewards points plus $11.20, I was ready to go.

The crew of five met up at my house at 8:30am, and we drove up to LAX. When you buy parking via the LAX website, it asks for your license plate number. Once we pulled into the terminal 1 garage, the screen flashed with a “welcome Brett Snyder” after reading the plate. No scanning of codes or anything needed. That was slick.

The airport roadways were really busy that morning and the garage was fairly full. We parked on the roof and then headed toward security.

The checkpoint was virtually empty, but security was an absolute mess like I’ve never seen before. Four of us had TSA Precheck, so we got in that line. Only one of us had a bag with the rest of just needing a place to dump our personal belongings, but there were no bins to be found. We asked someone if he had any bins. He looked at us, sighed, and then closed the metal detector while he went to get something. A couple minutes later, he dumped this out:

The last person with us had Clear but no TSA Precheck, so she got to the front of the already very short line, and then she waited. I have no idea what took so long, but even with our bin issues, we were done and waiting for probably 5 minutes if not more before she was able to get her shoes out of the machine. For long periods it seemed like nobody was working that machine at all, so nothing was moving.

We walked to our gate, 12A, which is the first one you see on the west side of the terminal. Our aircraft should have been there, but it wasn’t, so we went over to Rock ‘n Brews and had a Bloody Mary to start the day.

I don’t know what was going on, but the airplane seemed to be in the penalty box. It eventually blocked in 14 minutes late at 9:34am. Our depature time had crept a bit along with that delay, but I was surprised to see absolutely no attempt to hurry things along. Maybe the agents were looking at the sign which said we were still on-time.

There was a pilot standing at the podium for awhile talking to the agent. Then nothing happened for awhile. Finally, they called for boarding to begin, but there was some delay as they preboarded someone in a wheelchair who had some boarding pass issue. We weren’t in a hurry, but it was frustrating to watch this unfold so slowly.

The five of us had booked travel separately, so we had scattered between A38 and B38. This required strategizing about how we would get seating. It was all so unnecessary. It’s time for assigned seats on this airline.

The two of us in the A group boarded first and went behind the wing to try to reserve a row.

Southwest 150
June 8, 2024

From Los Angeles
➤ Scheduled Departure: 955a
➤ Actual Departure: 1023a
➤ From Gate: 12A
➤ Wheels Up: 1035a
➤ From Runway: 24R

To Oakland
➤ Wheels Down: 1127a
➤ On Runway: 30
➤ Scheduled Arrival: 1120a
➤ Actual Arrival: 1132a
➤ At Gate: 23

➤ Type: Boeing 737-76N
➤ Delivered: June 29, 2001 to Kenya Airways
➤ Registered: N7884G, msn 30133
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick

➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 17A
➤ Load: 97% Full
➤ Flight Time: 52m

This airplane has seen better days. Delivered in 2001 to Kenya Airways, it joined the Southwest fleet in 2016, and it clearly hasn’t seen a paint job since then.

The airplane just felt ancient with the old bins, dull yellow lighting, and awful seats that make up the aging 737-700 fleet.

We headed back and each stood in an aisle seat across from each other, blocking others from entering — not that they tried — until our whole party had shown up. This stressed my friend out greatly.

Once together, we had three on one side and then I was with my tallest friend on the other. The airplane was mostly full, so when someone showed up, he moved into the middle. I thought he was crazy for not just keeping the aisle, but he didn’t care for such a short hop.

The seating on this airplane really is terrible, but oh man is it so much worse if you’re 6’4″. Just take a look at how uncomfortable this must have been for him. (The other legs are mine.)

We lost fourteen minutes on the turn, pushing back just shy of half an hour late. It was a longer than usual taxi since runway 24L is being rebuilt, so we had to head west a bit before backtracking to get to runway 24R. We were up through the low marine layer quickly, and we took a right turn to make our way up north.

The flight attendants did the usual service with drinks and graham crackers, but I passed on everything. We descended into Oakland as the marine layer had begun to try to clear.

We walked over to the BART station and took the short but very expensive $7.10 ride to the Coliseum. The concrete monument was looking sad as usual, but it was pride day, so the rainbows flooding into the stadium made it feel a lot less drab than usual.

The game itself was awful with the A’s being shut out 7-0, but that’s ok. None of us are die-hard A’s fans, and we were just there to enjoy the experience one last time. After all, where else can you enjoy the experience of a trough in the mens room?

Seriously, I love a good trough in a stadium. It’s all about throughput, and nothing beats the throughput of a trough. Of course, this isn’t an issue for the A’s these days, because nobody shows up. Announced was attendance was around 9,200 which is actually decent this year.

When the game finished, we lingered around for awhile, slowly walking out, knowing we had time to kill before the flight home anyway.

As we walked back to the chain-link covered bridge that goes over sad tidal channels, warehousing, and just general bleakness over to BART, we stopped. In addition to the obligatory hot dog vendors, there were a couple of guys just selling beers out of a cooler. Why not?

As it turns out, bridge beer is the best beer. We just hung out for a bit, slowly making the walk back to the BART station, enjoyed the afternoon sun which had finally poked out from behind the clouds. With the beers done, we split up. Four of us headed back to the airport to fly home that night. After dropping another $7.10, we were back but we still had time to kill.

Security was again pretty empty, but those analogic machines are so slow. On the other side, the three of us with TSA Precheck gave up waiting for the Clear person, so we just told her to meet us at the bar. Our choices were the now OAK Clubhouse — it was supposed to be A’s-themed but no longer — in Terminal 1 or the Drafthouse over at the far end of Terminal 2. We opted for the Drafthouse.

One of us — absolutely not me, to be clear — is a huge Dodger fan, so we watched the Yankees game until it was time to go. Also, AEW wrestling was one another TV which is remarkably stupid yet also slightly entertaining.

Our airplane was coming from Chicago, and it was 15 minutes late. Once again everything felt like it was going in slow motion.

As usual, we had a line of wheelchair passengers who magically didn’t need a wheelchair upon arrival. Did I mention Southwest needs assigned seating? It was all just so slow. though we only lost 3 minutes on the turn this time.

Southwest 4027
June 8, 2024

From Oakland
➤ Scheduled Departure: 620p
➤ Actual Departure: 637p
➤ From Gate: 24
➤ Wheels Up: 645p
➤ From Runway: 30

To Los Angeles
➤ Wheels Down: 740p
➤ On Runway: 24R
➤ Scheduled Arrival: 745p
➤ Actual Arrival: 747p
➤ At Gate: 18A

➤ Type: Boeing 737-8H4
➤ Delivered: May 12, 2018
➤ Registered: N8570W, msn 36952
➤ Livery: Hot Dog on a Stick

➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 24A
➤ Load: ~95% Full
➤ Flight Time: 55m

Walking on to a 737-800 at Southwest is like walking on to a different airline. It has the big bins, the Boeing Sky Interior lighting, the more oval windows that sit higher, better seats, and more legroom. My tall friend’s legs show significant improvement:

We ended up taking row 24 in the back, but once again the flight was pretty full so we ended up doing two and two and sharing the row with another person.

The two chatty ones were over on the other side, watching the Dodgers game. My friend next to me took a nap, and I leaned up against the window to relax and watch the spectacular scenery the entire way.

Once in the air, we circled around over San Francisco as usual, but the light just hits different during the late afternoon.

We made it to altitude, darting through thin cloud layers that, when parted, continued the stellar view.

The flight attendants came by with drinks and salty death mix, but on our side of the plane, we passed. Our friends, however, kept the party going and had a beer.

At one point, the Dodgers hit a grand slam, and my friend screamed and clapped, waking up the whole plane, including my friend next to me.

On the way into LAX, the marine layer had begun to roll back in again, but I did get a semi-ok photo of Sofi Stadium and the new Intuit Dome.

We had a quick taxi and parked at the end of the concourse where I had a heck of a winglet view as we waited for the slow people to get off in the rows up front.

We walked back to the car and again the gate magically opened, letting us head home after a great long day of baseball.

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60 comments on “Saying Goodbye to Oakland Baseball (Trip Report)

  1. I thought that you weren’t supposed to save seats on SWA? So many problems traveling with them I’m glad that I stick with Delta.

    1. SWA pointedly refuses to take any position on saving seats. (Rather cowardly IMO.) So, no, it’s not correct to say that one “shouldn’t save seats”. It’s intentional anarchy.

    2. Just a few years ago, Southwest was really an enjoyable option, rivaling Delta. I haven’t flown much at all recently because of how negative the experience has become since 2020, including out of control TSA.

      I think we’ve seen airlines generally take a beating financially, and that’s affecting their customer service. The same thing is happening everything else in society where we once expected some level of customer service, from restaurants to dollar stores.

  2. Is the legroom on WN’s 737-700 any different than you would find on DL, UA, or AA? Seems a small thing to gripe about if you used points to fly a LCC and got an economy seat you would find on other legacy carriers.

    Some of us like open seating, especially if we are flying for work. I can avoid sitting next to a person of size, a person bringing an animal, lap child, unhygienic person,… You dont seem to mention the tradeoffs with assigned seating.

    1. But once you already chose your seat and sat down and say seats next to you are open, how do you prevent those people (people of size, lap child…etc) sit next to you? You can’t. So it’s the same whether it’s open or assigned seating.

    2. This is a purely subjective analysis, but as a 6′ 5″ person, I still prefer WN 737-700s over American/Delta/United. I was stuck in a middle economy seat on a flight from ATL-LAX once due to a change from a missed connection. Nobody in my row or in the seat in front of me liked me by the end. My unofficial ranking of legroom in regular economy, non-exit row seats is:
      1. Southwest 737-800
      2. Alaska
      3. Southwest 737-700
      4. American (barely above #5)
      5. United/Delta
      7. Delta’s CRJ-200 I flew SLC-GTF. I paid extra for an exit row but it turns out exit rows on Delta’s CRJ-200s don’t have any more legroom than any other seat on the plane. In fact, I believe the Comfort+ seats up front had the same legroom as well due to the bulkhead.

      I have avoided Spirit/Frontier/Allegiant and have never found myself on a JetBlue flight.

        1. I think I would. They just don’t fly any routes I’m interested in. I believe that ULCCs have their place and can be made to work for you. If you go on a points and miles website, you see people complain about how the all you can eat buffet in the lounge wasn’t 100% perfect. I believe that at the end of the day, being able to cross the US in 5 hours is by itself a luxury. At the same time, I also like having circulation in my legs.

          I considered Frontier for a trip once and was going to do the bundle that involved stretch seats…until I saw it was going to involve a 7 hour layover in the middle of the night.

        2. Second this – I flew the BFS on TPA-LAS once and was very happy. Sometimes all you want is a little more room, both in width and legroom, and you don’t care about meals or free booze or whatever, and for that the BFS is usually good value for money.

          (Especially considering my experience flying LAS-OAK in Spirit’s Small Back Seat. All A320s are the same width, how do they make their seats feel narrower as well? I would have lost my mind somewhere over Texas.)

      1. I agree with your ranking. The seats on SWA and Alaska are so much better than the competition. I like Alaska’s first product as welll.

        1. I got to experience that once, on a short flight from SMF-SAN. I was flying my bike down for a race, and it was only $30 more for first class which came with 2 free bags. So between my bike and suitcase, I saved $40 by flying first class. Normally, I don’t care too much about seat width, just legroom, but after a race, it was nice to have some extra space.

      2. Just be careful on Alaska. On the 739/739M rows 18-34 on the starboard side have 30.5″ pitch while the the port side all has 32″.

    3. Brian W – Legroom isn’t a problem for me on any of those airplanes. I just noticed it since my friend was so tall, and I was sitting right next to him.

    4. My bigger beef with the 737 seats is the width. I’m always rubbing shoulders with my neighbors.
      The extra inch of seat width on the Airbus makes a big difference.

  3. Scanners at LAX parking are great when they work, which to be fair is most of the time. When they don’t, make sure you have the QR code they send you as that opens the magic gate. It works best when you save in your wallet.

    1. Greg – Yes, I had it in my Google Wallet ready to go since I didn’t realize it would automatically recognize me. I was just glad that it worked with Google Wallet.

      1. First time it didn’t work caused much mad scrolling through my email accompanied by several loud, ” Where the **LL is that stupid email.” Then I figured out goggle wallet. I normally go to the economy parking because I can’t bring myself to suffer the horseshoe.

  4. I have not run into seat saving on SW but I tend to get a low A boarding number. SW doesn’t seem to care, as I’ve read stories about others running into seat savers. SW flight attendants apparently don’t intervene if passengers get into disputes over it. Personally I think it’s wrong. I do think it’s time SW went to some sort of assigned seating. Or at a minimum, let passengers pay for early boarding and board them BEFORE the rest of the plane, including pre boarders, who esp these days seem to be more scammers than actually handicapped.

    1. ” Or at a minimum, let passengers pay for early boarding and board them BEFORE the rest of the plane, including pre boarders, who esp these days seem to be more scammers than actually handicapped.”

      Understood, but don’t assume everyone that acts disabled is a scammer. There are plenty of people who have a condition that isn’t overt to the public. That’s not to say there aren’t scammers out there, but just be more self aware.

      1. I am well aware of that. But by not giving potential scammers first crack at seats, maybe it cuts down on the number of “Jetway Jesus” boarders .

        1. Fair enough. One thing I’ve noticed more & more that everyone it appears is now bringing their pets with them wherever they go & these are NOT support animals as they don’t have the proper tags. That said, there owners expect them to be accommodated as if they are. It started some point after the worst of the Coronavirus outbreaks & now you see them everywhere from malls to grocery stores & even sit down restaurants.

        2. But if you interpret the ACAA the way the DOT has…. since there are no assigned seats and someone requiring a specific type of seating for a medical reason can’t guarantee it in advance, they could in theory come on board, identify the seat you are in (let’s say bulkhead aisle) as being required to accommodate your condition, and the airline would have to boot you.

          1. The person demanding the specific seat would have to disclose their condition, and Southwest would be within their rights to deny it if the condition isn’t a “reasonable accommodation” under the ACAA.

            If the person didn’t identify themselves as requiring accommodation during pre-boarding, “reasonable accommodation” could be met by putting them on the next flight, so I suspect that’s why this doesn’t happen very often.

            1. Sorry, “deny the seat request if it doesn’t meet the ““reasonable accommodation” test under the ACAA.

      1. It is looking more & more likely that the A’s will end up in Sacramento & remain there long-term. John Fisher is in hot water with MLB over the Vegas move & it has gotten to the point where the league may need to step in & take over operations. This will lead to a sale of the team to a new ownership group & they could relocate to Las Vegas or not.

    1. DesertGhost – Heck yeah. Though I suppose I have 3 years to make that happen. We almost called an audible. There was an Amtrak train leaving the Coliseum station at 3:57pm that would get us to Sacramento at 6. The Rivercats were playing that night. Only snag was we couldn’t find a way home that night. But yes, I will absolutely see a game there.

  5. Back in the good old days at AWA, I often caught a flight up to OAK for a game. Get there early, take the bus for a buck or the Air Bart for 3.50, go to the Hofbrau for beers. I miss OAK, and I’m really sad to see them losing the A’s. Only bad part of my non-revs was that the dreaded AW708, the 737-100, would frequently be my return flight home, and just as frequently it would be cancelled on a MX. Had to fly SW home a few times….

    1. Today I learned that AWA operated the 737-100. With so few sold, I did not know any American carriers used it.

      1. Chris – It’s true, operated several of them, but only N708AW made it up until the end. That airplane was used to fly the Suns around during the season. When it wasn’t doing that, they would run it often on San Jose – Phoenix – Austin b/c it had a ton of first class seats onboard and this was during the .com boom. In the offseason it was reconfigured and flew to all sorts of random places like Tucson or Cabo.

        1. 708 was an interesting plane to fly on, nice when it had all the first class seats, not so nice otherwise. I remember flying on it near the front of the plane, and we could hear some interesting noises coming from the exit doors on final. It flew all the way till 12-31-99, after that it would have needed a hush kit to ensure it was stage 3, but at that point it wasn’t worth the expense.

          1. Yo – I took a ride on 708 on a Saturday when I had nothing else to do.
            Just did a roundtrip down to Tucson. On the layover, I was chatting with the crew. I still remember one of the pilots describing 708 as “a little bent but it worked.” Definitely an odd ball but somehow it made it up until the bitter end!

            1. Pilots loved it, because it had more power when they needed it compared to the 200. It was one quirky plane. Not sure if it was 708, or one of the others, but there was one that was reclaimed from a swamp in Panama…

      2. America West had one, it was painted in a special Phoenix Suns livery for a while as it was the plane used for team charters.

        People Express had a bunch of -100s.

  6. SWA is a love-hate relationship for us (I love, my wife hates). I love the culture and the non-stop options the airline provides, but “bags fly free” does nothing for us as we never check a bag when travelling domestic so it feels like we’re subsidizing those who do. Not a big deal. But the big issue is that my wife hates that there are no assigned seats and almost no option to avoid a middle seat (a pair on the 737-700s only right?).

    Because of this they are rarely considered (finally after 20+ years I got my wife to cave in this year – and even then I bought an Anytime fare in case another airline changed flight times plus it came with Early Bird check-in). Count me in as an advocate for assigned seating. Also, I know they dug in about not charging for check bags but perhaps changing it to one checked bag could be seen as keeping their promise and reducing the loss of ancillary revenue.

    1. I haven’t flown Southwest in decades (they don’t fly anywhere I need to go, since I almost never fly between two big US cities), but general impression is that airlines without checked bag fees wind up with dramatically fewer rollaboards to cram in the overhead bins, which significantly expedites boarding. To my mind, that benefits everyone, even people like me who pretty much never check a bag even when I don’t have a fee (due to credit card / elite status /etc).

      1. I’ve found on quite a few WN flights I’m on (namely on the -700s) they do run out of bin space for carry-ons. Earlier this year I had the “unlimited legroom” seat in the exit row and had put my carry-on (which is a larger backpack) in the overhead since I can’t reach it from that seat anyway. They ran out of space… flight attendant pulled my bag out of the overhead and said loudly “Who owns this? This does NOT go in the overhead.” Which is fine, I had to get up and crawl forward to put it two rows up under the seat… just for your colleague to yell at me for it sliding out.

  7. I wonder what Southwest has gamed out for assigned seats. I don’t expect them to go and do the same thing as everyone else.

    Perhaps assigned seats for those who pay and cattle call for everyone else? Logistically that is tricky, especially if you don’t require everyone to get off on milk run flights.

    1. I’ve flown on SW flights where there is no plane change but passengers getting on/off. Usually short layovers. But if through passengers get off , the flight crew allows them to reboard before the people getting on at that airport. I think the hybrid assigned seats would be a good compromise as well as the least taxing for their IT systems. Say A1-30 board first, then preboards, then the cattle call. This way they don’t have to build an actual seating chart into their reservation system.

      1. The issue with a hybrid model and thru flights is that passengers staying on can change seats before anyone else boards, giving them the opportunity to change into a seat that has been reserved by someone else.

        Trains in the UK have the hybrid model, and the seats have signs indicating which seats are reserved and for which segment of the trip. For Southwest to do the same, someone would have to get the list of assigned seats to the plane and go through and mark them before allowing thru passengers to move. I’m sure neither flight attendants nor gate agents relish the idea of having to add this to the list of tasks to accomplish during the short turn.

        1. The reserved section would just need to be setup as a separate cabin like how Delta marks Comfort+ with the red headrests. So if you want to move around you can but only in the economy section of the plane, not the reserved.

  8. Always sad to see a city take hits but they have been coming to Oakland regarding sports for quite some time.

    Southwest knows its seat policy doesn’t work and it will likely change but I appreciate that their employees are much less confrontational than some other airlines’ employees and getting in the midst of seat saving w/ the current free-for-all would just create confrontation.

    As for the age of the -700s, WN is pushing them as hard as they can. Many are flying right up to required maintenance and any delays cut into that maintenance. They need new airplanes and to be able to retire a bunch of -700s.

    After a brutal day on Capitol Hill (and looking for commentary from Jon et al), hopefully Boeing can end its production lapses, march toward certification of the MAX 7 and 10, and start delivering planes to customers as promised – but all is just aspirational at this point.

    Nobody needs Boeing to succeed more than Southwest.

  9. I flew to Phoenix a couple years back to see the Padres play……maybe I’ll fly up to Sacramento next year to watch them play there

  10. Two things:

    1) why would somebody have clear but not precheck?

    2) how is BART $7.10 for what is probably the shortest connection in the system?

    1. Bill –

      1) This is a great question. I think she said that someone gifted her Clear or something like that, so she did it but never bothered with Precheck? I don’t know. We shamed her much of the day.

      2) Pretty sure they need to pay for the construction of that thing, and it wasn’t cheap. But it does mean it’s $12 to get all the way to the Embarcadero in the city. It’s pretty pricey.

      1. Makes my house to DCA for $2 ($2.40 peak) seem like a great deal.

        I just learned I can get to Dulles for $2 ($6 peak), now that’s a helluva deal for a 32 mile trip! I think that BART connector to OAK costs more to go about 32 yards!

      2. When I lived in the area I’d always just take the 73 bus to Coliseum station ($2.25) rather than shuttle thing. It’s pretty frequent and pretty fast so half the time I’d end up on the same BART train anyway.

      3. It’s $8.50 for the bloody AirTrain at JFK and $5 off peak to Manhattan on LIRR with the City Ticket. Makes perfect sense.

  11. I’d take a WN -700 over AA mainline. It’s not great (and hasn’t been since they bumped from 137 seats onboard to 143) but there are worse options.

    Likewise looking forward to Boeing figuring out how to build planes again, as from what I recall WN gets a good deal on planes by being last in line…and they’re having to cut routes at this point due to not having planes to run those routes.

    Between P&W GTFs and 737 issues, if you’re a ULCC that has planes to spare (Breeze, maybe Frontier) it’s a better than normal time to compete, as your competitors can’t just park capacity on top of you as easily.

  12. It’s sad and ironic that your article about baseball was published on the day the great Willie Mays died.

    R.I.P Willie

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