To visit friends in the Bay Area for the weekend, I booked 2 Southwest flights and was able to utilize the Free A-List Free Standby benefit which I wrote about here yesterday.
On both flights that I got on, they were with the new livery. This was exciting for me to see when the plane pulled into the gate. I haven’t flown on Southwest in about 10 years, so I was excited to try them out again.
Southwest Airlines Flights 103 and 4370
Santa Ana (SNA) to Oakland (OAK) and
San Jose (SJC) to Long Beach (LGB)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-700
Seats: 16F and 2A Window
I still love how Southwest Airlines flights allows you to check in 2 bags for free. I mean, which domestic carrier still does that (none!)? Even more awesome, is the fact they offer free change and cancellation fees. Need to change your flight? No worries, you just have to pay the fare difference on the new flight. Or need to cancel? You’ll get a travel credit valid for 12 months, even on the cheapest “Wanna Get Away Fare”.
Southwest Airlines flights don’t have assigned seating, so your boarding group is vital to determining if you’ll end up getting that dreaded middle seat. Each passenger is assigned a boarding position based on how early you check-in 24 hours before departure. It consists of groups A, B or C with numbers 1-60.
On my first flight from SNA-OAK, I got ticketed about an hour before due to me utilizing the Free Same Day Standby Benefit so I got a C2 Boarding Group. If an A-Lister receives a position in the B or C group (happens when a flight change is made less than 36 hours before departure) they can board after the A group. So, I got to board after Group A1-60. I ended up snagging a window seat in row 16 out of 24.
On my flight home from SJC-LGB, I checked in about 23 hours before the flight and I was assigned an A19 boarding. I ended up in Row 2 with a nice window seat!
Frequent flyers with A-List + A-List Preferred status and passengers who purchased EarlyBird Check-In are automatically assigned a boarding position 36 hours before departure so you don’t need to worry about checking in exactly at 24 hours prior to departure.
I personally don’t love the “free for all” boarding. It’s really easy to get stuck in a bad seat if you don’t check in exactly 24 hours before departure, buy Early Bird Check In, or have status.
The seats didn’t change much from what I remember ten years ago (minus the fact that I got a lot bigger so the legroom seemed more cramped lol). The legroom was decent, as Southwest advertises their seats to be 17 inches wide with 31 inches of pitch. The seat felt a lot more cramped than my similar Oakland to Long Beach flight on JetBlue just a few months prior. But, the seat was pretty comfortable for the short one hour hop.
There was only one lavatory in the back, and it was really small. Clean, but tiny. One of the smallest airplane lavs I’ve been on.
In- Flight Entertainment:
Southwest Airlines flights have a selection of free movies (47 options) and tv shows that you can stream to your device. They advertise free messaging as well, and it didn’t work from SNA-OAK, but thankfully it worked on my flight home from SJC-LGB. Wifi was available for $8 but I didn’t try it out for these short flights.
There was a beverage service, and pretzels were given on my flight home. Interestingly, there wasn’t any pretzels or snacks offered on my flight to Oakland. They took your order rather than pushing the cart around which I found interesting and it actually seemed quite efficient.
Overall, I had two good flights on Southwest and I would definitely consider flying them again. I love the flexible no change fee policy and solid experience. Both flights landed early as well!
Have you flown Southwest Airlines recently? What were your thoughts? Comment below!